A comprehensive study from researchers at the RAND Corporation found that laws that allow medical marijuana dispensaries correlate with increases in overall pot use and dependence for adults 21 and older but only rises in dependence among youth.
The findings suggest that allowing businesses to sell marijuana leads to more access and use, particularly for adults.
This latest research disputes earlier studies that found no increases in teen pot use following the legalization of medical marijuana.
Drug policy experts argue these earlier studies were far less robust; they failed to control for factors like whether a state allows dispensaries, cultivation, or only possession — rendering them incapable of gauging the full effect of different pot policies.
If legalization does lead to more pot use, the question for society and public health officials is whether that downside outweighs the benefits of legalization.
More people getting intoxicated — albeit through a relatively safe drug — isn’t an outcome that most supporters of legalization see as desirable, but banning pot has costs of its own, including hundreds of thousands of racially skewed arrests and the creation of a black market that helps finance violent drug cartels around the world.
The legality of marijuana has been a hotly debated subject for decades.
Until the government of US and many other established countries outlawed its use, smoking marijuana had been a widespread activity for thousands of years. Since the authorities banned the recreational use, sale, and growth of this substance many groups have sprung up and protests have been organized to fight for the right to possess and use the plant.
But for more than 25 years, RAND researchers have published articles and studies that will be useful for those making decisions about marijuana policy.
Here we summarize some of these studies and provide links to the publications (some journal articles may require subscription).