Marijuana legalization does not increase probability of use, according to researchers

With several states, including Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, considering lifting the prohibition of marijuana, and the acceptance of medical marijuana growing, counter-arguments loom over whether legaization will increase probability of use amongst high school students.

Not so, says Daniel I. Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver. “There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there’s no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use.”

Rees teamed with two other economics professors, Benjamin Hansen, assistant professor of economics at the University of Oregon and D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University, for the working paper titled “Medical Marijuana Laws and Teenage Marijuana Use” (which is as of now non-peer reviewed). The three used data from national and state Youth Risky Behavior Surveys (YRBS) for the years 1993 through 2009, a period during which 13 states legalized medical marijuana. The number states that permit medical marijuana now stands at 30 with legislation pending in several other states (Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio and Missouri.

“This result is important given that the federal government has recently intensified its efforts to close medical marijuana dispensaries,” said Hansen. “In fact, the data often showed a negative relationship between legalization and marijuana use.”

The study is not yet peer-reviewed and contradicts what the U.S. government believes to be true: that legalization would, in fact, increase probability of use. With the damage caused by alcohol through all age groups, as well as the medical problems created by smoking tobacco, perhaps the government should concentrate their efforts on battling nicotine and alcohol addiction.

Oh, yes, that’s right: very powerful alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical company lobbies believe they might be financially impacted if marijuana or any other drug for that matter were legalized. The drug hysteria is not only profitable for the aforementioned, but for law enforcement in various states and cities as well. Police forces receive federal dollars for their budgets, which would evaporate if marijuana were legalized. And the media gets nice ratings if they fixate on drug-induced violence.

Wait, that’s absurd: everyone aside from the marijuana industry and its smokers are being dishonest. We should trust what our government, its lobbyists, law enforcement and mainstream media tell us.

Read the working paper online.