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Researchers Determine Legal Cannabis Sales Not Associated With Increased Youth Consumption

Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have passed adult-use legalization measures, with several states permitting regulated recreational cannabis sales as part of their legalization models. Colorado and Washington State were the first to passed such measures, with legal sales beginning in both states in 2014.

According to research recently published by the American Medical Association, and initially reported by Marijuana Moment, there is “no evidence” of increased cannabis use by youth in legalized states.

The researchers that led the analysis were associated with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University (Bozeman), the Department of Economics at San Diego State University, and the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies at San Diego State University. The research was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“In this repeated cross-sectional study, there was no evidence that RMLs were associated with encouraging youth marijuana use,” the researchers stated. “After legalization, there was no evidence of an increase in marijuana use.”

“Estimates based on the state YRBS and estimates of the association between the first dispensary opening and marijuana use were qualitatively similar,” the researchers also stated.

The research effort was the largest to-date of its kind, involving pre and post-legalization data from 12 different states, nine of which contributed data from before and after retail adult-use cannabis sales began. The research effort also incorporated data from 36 states without adult-use cannabis laws at the time the data was collected, and involved 207,781 respondents.

Findings from this most-recent study are in-line with the findings of a previous, somewhat less-robust study which also determined that neither adult-use legalization nor the opening of recreational dispensaries in U.S. states led to increases in youth cannabis use.

According to the results of a recent Gallup survey, 9% of U.S. adults report using cannabis regularly. In addition to a reported 9% ‘regular’ consumption rate, the Gallup survey found that roughly one in five adults (19%) reported using cannabis products at least once in the prior month.

A particularly insightful fact from the Gallup survey involved cannabis usage rates between states where cannabis is permitted for adult use and where it is not. Gallup found that in legal states the average days of cannabis consumption per month by adults was 2.9 days versus 2.5 days in illegal states, demonstrating that there is “little difference in usage” rates.