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Are Young People More Likely to Try Cannabis In States Where It's Legal?

A new report flips the script.

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This story originally appeared on Benzinga

Does legalization of recreational cannabis increase youth consumption? According to a new research published in the May 26, 2022 online issue of Addiction, yes it does.

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The new findings contradict so many prior studies, including a report issued in March by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation. The Coalition’s report with the title "Cannabis Legalization Is Not Associated with Increases in Youth Use," revealed that state-level marijuana legalization usually doesn’t cause an increase in youth consumption.

Let’s take a look at the details of the newest research that claims the opposite.

RELATED: Report: Kids Use Less Marijuana in States That Have Legalized

Young, old: Everyone's trying it

The new observational study tracked 6,925 youths and 14,938 adults using data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health in the United States (PATH), writes UC San Diego New Center.

The authors revealed that young people, ages 12 to 20, were more prone to becoming marijuana consumers in states with legal adult-use cannabis programs than in states where the drug is still illegal. Furthermore, a higher likeliness was also confirmed in adults.

According to a 2020 Natural Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17.9% of people aged 12 or older (around 49.6 million individuals) confirmed using marijuana over the last 12 months.

The study questioned individuals living in four states with legal recreational cannabis use – California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada, 11 states with legal medical marijuana programs and 17 states that ban all marijuana use.

RELATED: What 2021 Taught Us About Youth Cannabis Use

Why this report is different

According to the authors, relying on PATH data makes their research the first to examine age-level changes in a nationally representative longitudinal cohort. Furthermore, the study had a much larger sample size than most of the previous studies.

 “Our findings provide useful information to policymakers and public health practitioners interested in understanding the consequences of legalizing recreational cannabis,” said principal investigator Yuyan Shi, PhD, associate professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego. “It’s especially concerning that increased cannabis use occurs among young people because of the detrimental health effects associated with cannabis use at a young age, including impaired respiratory function, cardiovascular disease and adverse effects on mental health.”

Part of the funding for the study came from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Co-authors include: Christian Gunadi, UC San Diego and Bin Zhu, UC San Diego & Southern University of Science and Technology, China.