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Legalization of medical marijuana won’t encourage teenagers to smoke more: study

Brown University research sees no rise in teens lighting up

BY Rheana Murray

Legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t push more teens to light up, new research shows.

A study from Brown University compared rates of marijuana use in Massachusetts to those in Rhode Island – where medical use of the drug was legalized in 2006.

Findings suggested the legislation has no influence on teens’ drug habits.

Dr. Esther Choo, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the university’s medical school and a physician at Rhode Island Hospital, said researchers selected the liberal-leaning Northeastern spots based on their similarities.

“We wanted to pair these two states because they have so much in common culturally and geographically,” Dr. Esther Choo told

Teenagers surveyed were no more likely to smoke marijuana in Rhode Island, post-legalization, than they were in Massachusetts.

About 30 percent of kids reported using marijuana at least once in the previous month – legalization or not, reported.

Choo pointed out that it’s not young people who are likely to benefit from medical marijuana.

“Whether they are taking it for pain or for vomiting control or appetite, this is not a group we think of as superinspiring for young people to take up their drug patter,” he said to “It’s an older population that is generally very ill.”

Choo’s research backs up a similar study from 2005, in which a psychology professor from the State University of New York found that marijuana use in California didn’t jump after the state legalized the drug for medicinal purposes.

Between 1996 – when California passed the law – and 2004, the number of students who admitted to smoking pot in the previous month dived 47 percent.

The trend was consistent among other states the study monitored.

“I’m delighted to see that their work confirms my previous report that medical marijuana laws do not increase teen use,” said Mitch Earleywine, who wrote the analysis.



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