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New Study Finds Legalization Hasn’t Increased Cannabis Use


A new study published in the journal Addiction has found that legalization is not a contributing factor to increased cannabis use among adults in the United States. The study was conducted by researchers at the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group, and they used data provided by periodic national alcohol surveys. That data was compared to results on cannabis use from those surveys, which was looked at alongside changes in state marijuana laws.

“Results …did not show significant increases in use related to medicinal marijuana legislation,” William Kerr, author of the study, said in a statement. “It appears that the passage of these policies reflects changing attitudes toward marijuana use, rather than the other way around.”

The study found that between the years of 1984 and 2015, cannabis use among men increased to 14.7%, while consumption among women doubled (from 5.5% to 10.6%) over the same period. They also found that since 2015, 12.9% of adults report that they regularly consume cannabis – which is up from 6.7% only 10 years earlier in 2005.

Use among adults aged 50-59 has also increased significantly since 2005 – with an increase of 2,220% (from .5% to 11.6%) among men, and an increase of 7,200% (from 0.1% to 7.3%) among women. The reason for this is theorized to be because the Baby Boomer generation moved into this age group during these years, and they are generally more accepting of cannabis than the generations before them.

Researchers concluded that the change in marijuana laws – which now includes 30 states and D.C. with medicinal marijuana laws, and 8 states and D.C. with recreational cannabis laws – is due to changing attitudes and increased cannabis use. There are even more states who are looking at legalizing medicinal or recreational cannabis use through legislature, rather than through a voter initiative (Vermont being the state that has come the closest to this goal).

This falls right in line with other studies that prove that legalizing cannabis does not lead to increased teen use. The increase in cannabis users has been happening across the nation, not only in states where use is legal on one level or another. It is fair to say that the change in policy is due to the change in attitude as the truth about cannabis comes out in scientific studies and as the Reefer Madness propaganda fades further into the past.