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Why Is Adolescent Marijuana Use Higher in States
That Legalize Medical Marijuana than in States That Don’t?

The June 17th issue of The Marijuana Report summarized a new study, published by Lancet, that finds marijuana use does not increase among high school students when a state legalizes medical marijuana. Researchers analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future Survey about past-month marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students between 1991 and 2014.
 
Although use does not increase after legalization, a key finding of the study—ignored by most of the press—is that use was already higher in states before such laws were passed than in states that have never legalized medical marijuana. The question is why? What is different about these states from states that haven't legalized medical pot?
 
“These states might differ from the others on common factors yet to be identified (eg. norms surrounding marijuana use or marijuana availability),” say the researchers. “Investigation of these factors is warranted.”
 
There is no doubt that nationally, taking all states together, marijuana use increased dramatically between 1991 and 2014. As shown above, past-month use doubled among 8th graders, nearly doubled among 10th graders, and increased more than 50 percent among 12th graders. We need to understand what drove these increases.
 
At the same time, the perception that regular marijuana use is harmful decreased among 8th graders from 83.8 percent in 1991 to 58.9 percent in 2014, among 10th graders from 82.1 percent to 45.4 percent, and among 12th graders from 78.6 percent to 36.1 percent. Why so many high school students believe regular marijuana use is harmless also needs to be understood so that this misperception can be corrected.    
 
Read Lancet study here.
See Monitoring the Future past 30-day marijuana use data here.
See Monitoring the Future perception of harm data (8th graders) here, (10th graders) hereand (12th graders) here.
The Denver Post Says Perhaps Colorado
Should Repeal Its Medical Marijuana Law
 
Pictured above is The Cannabist, the marijuana website of The Denver Post that celebrates, some would say glamorizes, all things pot. The newspaper initiated the website soon after Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012.
 
But the marijuana industry that The Cannabist glorifies evolved to serve the needs of those seeking medical marijuana, legal in the state since 2000. Marijuana-infused candies, cookies, and “soft” drinks, marijuana strains high in THC and low in CBD, marijuana concentrates with 75 percent to 100 percent THC, and marijuana vaping pens are all products developed by the medical marijuana industry, not the recreational one.
 
Now, the newspaper that created The Cannabist has decided that maybe medical marijuana was a Trojan Horse after all. Responding to a series of articles published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), summarized in the June 24th issue of The Marijuana Report, the Post notes that “medical marijuana fails to meet the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for most conditions. Critics have long suspected that medical claims were mostly a ruse to legalize weed. If that is not the case, then medical pot should be able to prove its efficacy through the same research methods as every other medicine.”
 
The Post concludes, “Colorado's Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana in 2000, lists several ‘debilitating medical conditions’ — such as glaucoma — for which there is still apparently little or no good evidence of a true benefit. And while it would be extremely difficult to change the measure, that doesn't mean the possibility shouldn't be discussed.”
 
One JAMA article reviewed 79 studies that were already out there, most for many years. And nearly all medical societies specializing in the diseases Colorado voters approved marijuana to treat have opposed legalizing the drug for medical use, again for many years. Too bad The Denver Post couldn’t take their advice and inform voters before the initiative reached the ballot in 2000. While we applaud the position the Post has taken today, it’s too little, too late.
 
Read The Denver Post editorial here. Read The Cannabist here.

To Our Subscribers
 
July 1 marked the first-year anniversary of The Marijuana Report e-newsletter. By far the most popular issues published last year were the February 4th issue featuring Colorado's marijuana health report. More than 24,000 readers clicked through to read it. More than 11,500 readers clicked through to read the Colorado public safety report featured in our February 11th issue. For those who missed the Colorado health report, click here (note new link); the public safety report, click here. A huge thank you to all our readers who share their copy of The Marijuana Report with others in their networks!
National Families in Action and partners, Project SAM and the Treatment Research Institute, welcome our new readers. We hope you enjoy this weekly e-newsletter to keep up-to-date with all aspects of the marijuana story. Visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, and subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter The Marijuana Report to learn more.

National Families in Action is a group of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. We advocate for:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy
What is our call to action?
  • Ask your leaders to establish FDA expanded access to Epidiolex® for children with epilepsy.
  • Ask your leaders to find a middle road between incarceration and legalization of addictive drugs.
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