Across the United States, and in a few other countries, cannabis use is gradually becoming more accepted in a medicinal context. Medical marijuana has been proven to offer a range of benefits to people with certain conditions, mainly connected to relieving pain, but also mental health and stress issues when used in small doses. This is despite the potential health risks, which previously have prevented states from legalising it for people who might be able to benefit.
One of the major concerns help by many people was that teens are more likely to smoke cannabis for recreational purposes if the law makes it easier to get hold of. The logic is that making cannabis obtainable by patients who could benefit from it health-wise makes it less difficult for teens to do the same. Normalising marijuana by allowing it to be used for medical reasons has long been argued as a bad thing for teenagers who are tempted to smoke it.
However, recent developments in the USA have led to some statistics being gathered that show the exact opposite situation. Now 25 states legalise cannabis in some form, mostly for medical use, and 39% of high school students reported using marijuana at least once (figures taken from a 2015 survey). In comparison, 20 years earlier the same data was collected, at which point almost all of these states still had a complete ban on cannabis use for any reason. Then the data showed roughly 44% of the same demographic used marijuana.
It may be that changing tastes and fashion have not been accounted for here, as well as many other factors. A direct link between legalising cannabis for medical purposes and reduced consumption among teenagers cannot necessarily be determined from this study. However, the findings match with dozens of similar surveys across the world, which certainly gives the impression that it’s impossible to link legalisation with an increase in teen use.