Teens are less likely to use marijuana in states with legal cannabis, study finds

States that have acted to legalize adult marijuana use are also protecting youth from using pot, according to medical experts.

A study published Monday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics found that recreational cannabis legalization is associated with an 8% decline in the number of high schoolers who reported any marijuana use in the last 30 days, and a 9% drop in the number who said they’d used at least 10 times in the last 30 days.

“Just to be clear we found no effect on teen use following legalization for medical purposes, but evidence of a possible reduction in use following legalization for recreational purposes,” said Mark Anderson, an associate professor at Montana State University and co-author of the paper.

GROW YOUR OWN: How to spring forward into medical cannabis gardening — and recreational, too

“Because our study is based on more policy variation than prior work, we view our estimates as the most credible to date in the literature,” he added.

The researchers analyzed data between 1993 to 2017, from roughly 1.4 million high school students in the United States from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.

The researchers found that regulations that come with a recreational market may help to deter teen use.

DRIVING HIGH: AAA says many drivers underestimate dangers of marijuana impairment

“It is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age,” experts wrote.

Researchers acknowledged the study’s limitations, however, and determined that the association between recreational cannabis laws and teen use needs to be further studied.

“Because many recreational marijuana laws have been passed so recently, we do observe limited post-treatment data for some of these states,” Anderson said. “In a few years, it would make sense to update our estimates as more data become available.”

Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.