Residents of US states that legalize recreational cannabis are more likely to start using drug

Society for the Study of Addiction

A new study of more than 20,000 Americans published in the scientific journal Addiction has found that once a state legalizes recreational cannabis, state residents are more likely to start using the drug. The study compared four US states with legalized recreational cannabis (California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine) with states that had not.

This study is groundbreaking in four ways:

  • It is the first study to estimate the association between recreational cannabis laws and individual-level changes in cannabis use among a nationally representative longitudinal cohort in the US.
  • It examines cannabis use initiation in both youths and adults.
  • It has a much larger sample size than similar longitudinal studies: 6,925 youths and 14,938 adults, 21,863 in total.
  • The study provides evidence against the claim that legalization would not increase cannabis use among youth.

Professor Yuyan Shi of Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego, the Principal Investigator of this study, says “Our findings provide useful information to policymakers and public health practitioners interested in understanding the consequences of legalizing recreational cannabis. 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.”

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.