A new review of 55 studies published in the scientific journal Current Addiction Reports shows that adolescent cannabis use does not increase after a state legalizes cannabis, the Marijuana Moment reports.
The meta-study is supported by many other studies that show the same effect — yet still contradicted by some others. Researchers involved with the meta-study said that reports showing teen usage on the rise have often not corrected for the fact that teen usage in those states was already rising prior to legalization. Rates haven’t increased, then, they were just always higher than the national average.
The report looks specifically at “Cannabis use disorder,” which is defined by the World Health Organization as “the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment, ranging from mild to severe.”
According to the study, adult use has been shown to increase in states with legalization — the rates of cannabis use disorder, however, have not gone up.
“Despite the increase in the prevalence of adult cannabis use, the prevalence of cannabis use disorders among adults in the past year did not change (remaining at 1.5 percent [from 2002 to 2004]). More surprisingly still, the prevalence of [cannabis use disorder] among adults who used cannabis in the past year declined from 14.8 percent in 2002 to 11.0 percent in 2014.” — excerpt from the report, via Marijuana Moment
Researchers theorize that cannabis use disorder is on the decline because the most vulnerable population — adolescents and teens — have also seen their usage rates decline. Many medical studies show that not only are the young most likely to develop cannabis use disorder, they’re also likely to experience the most detrimental side effects of consumption because their brains haven’t fully developed.
Any reduction in adolescent or teen use should swell support for legalization.