Legalizing medical marijuana in Rhode Island did not increase illegal use of the drug among the state's youths, a new study shows.
"Our study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to Rhode Island's 2006 legalization of medical marijuana; however, additional research may follow future trends as medical marijuana in Rhode Island and other states becomes more widely used," study researcher Dr. Esther Choo, of Brown University, said in a statement.
Rhode Island Hospital researchers aimed to assess the impact of Rhode Island's legalization of medical marijuana. They looked at survey results from 32,570 middle school and high school students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts collected as part of the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System. The surveys were completed between 1997 and 2009.
The researchers found no difference in illegal marijuana use among youths between the Rhode Island and Massachusetts in any year. (Massachusetts has not legalized medical marijuana.)
The idea of legalizing medical marijuana has raised concerns about the drug subsequently becoming increasingly accessible to adolescents, who are most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of marijuana, according to Choo, who is also an emergency physician at Rhode Island Hospital.
Choo will present the study's findings tomorrow (Nov. 2) at the American Public Health Association meeting in Washington, D.C.
Pass it on: Legalizing medical marijuana on a state level in Rhode Island did not increase illegal use of the drug among the state's youths, a new study shows.