Amid legalization, teen hospitalizations for pot down 50%, finds CDC
In March, Nebraska Republican Governor Pete Ricketts claimed, “If you legalize marijuana, you will kill your children.”
However, recent studies of conditions in adults consistently show little or no effect on use by adolescents, and now – hospital admissions.
A November 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found far fewer teens going to the pot to hospital as adult use laws went into effect nationwide.
The CDC report found that “there has been a steep national decline in approvals for adolescent treatments, particularly in states that legalize recreational marijuana use,” according to study author Jeremy Mennis, Ph.D.
“7 out of 8 states that legalized recreation during the study period fall in the class with the greatest drop in admissions.”
– Centers for Disease Control, 2020
CDC data is consistent with most surveys
When legalization slowed down from 2008 to 2017, teenagers going to hospital for pot treatment dropped from about 60 cases per 100,000 to 31. Furthermore, legalizing states led the way: “7 out of 8 states with recreational legalization during the study period fall into the class with the steepest decline in admissions. “
Most of the research continues to suggest that legalizing the pot for adults age 21 and older no longer led teens to weed-filled lives.
The CDC data is consistent with a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics in 2019 that surveyed 1.4 million children and concluded that “consistent with findings from previous researchers, there is no evidence to support this that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among adolescents. “
Similarly, a study published this month in the journal Substance Abuse showed a decrease in cannabis use among teenagers in states with medical marijuana laws.
“The data on this issue is clear, consistent and available. Those who advance this baseless narrative are either pathetically ignorant or deliberately ignorant. “
Paul Armentano, deputy NORML director
Beau Kilmer, director of the RAND Drug Research Research Center and senior policy researcher at RAND Corporation, said, “When it comes to legalizing recreational cannabis, much of the peer-reviewed research suggests that this has not been a past increase -month prevalence so far, and some studies suggest a decrease. “
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “The data on this issue is clear, consistent and available. Those who advance this baseless narrative are either pathetically ignorant or deliberately ignorant. “
Legalization critics don’t buy it
Conversely, Lynn Silver, a California pediatrician who heads the anti-marijuana group “Getting it Right From The Start,” described studies that show that adolescent marijuana use is “a gross oversimplification and does not reflect current data” .
Right from the start, Trumpet got it right from health concerns to support the ban on many cannabis extracts, as well as all events and advertising on packaging, and to limit the number of local stores.
Duel with national polls
Silver references the 2019 national drug use and health survey, which shows an increase in cannabis use among teenagers.
Two different national surveys of teenage marijuana use show flat or slightly increasing rates. (NSDUH, 2020)
“Some of the early studies didn’t see a decrease in youth use, but more recent studies have found an increase, especially in areas like vaping, where effectiveness is much higher than that of a traditional joint,” said Silver. “The data is complex, but I’d say the balance right now tells us we need to worry more than not worry.”
“I wouldn’t say 100% of the data is one-way, but enough of it is toward increases, that’s cause for concern,” she said. “There are some studies that have found declines, but I’d say the larger national studies, certainly on vaping, are cause for concern.”
Monitor the future: children are fine
Unlike silver, the results of Monitoring the Future’s (MTF) long-running national study also show an overall decline in youth using marijuana. In some age groups, teenage weed vaping increased from 2018 to 2019, but not in 2020.
The national survey on future monitoring shows that teenage usage rates remained unchanged in 2012 as legalization increased. Teenage consumption peaked during the ban in the 1970s. (Monitoring the future)
“Usage levels were slightly lower in 2020 than in 1996 to 1997, after a decline of around ten percentage points in 2007 to 2008 and a subsequent recovery with minor changes in 2020.”
CHKS also shows healthy children
In addition, the latest California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) showed a decline in pot use among teenagers as legalization came about.
The California Healthy Kids Survey shows that teenage usage is dropping or shallow among adults 21 and older due to widespread medical access and adult usage. (California Healthy Kids Survey)
Silver counters that the decline has flattened and teen vaping has increased.
“This suggests that the previous decreases in reported marijuana use may be due to the fact that the question of usage in general does not capture the increasing number of users who consume marijuana through vaping or orally,” the report said.
Dueling magazine articles
Another critic of drug law reform, Project SAM, cites a study published by the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs showing an increase in marijuana use among teenagers in California since cannabis was legalized for adult use in 2016.
NORML said the study was flawed.
“The reality is that this particular study does not agree with the vast majority of the relevant literature, which is why it is the only study cited by opponents on the subject,” said Armentano.
Teens report less access to cannabis due to adult use and medical legalization than during the ban. Pharmacies check IDs, high school dealers don’t. (Monitoring the future)
A separate, peer-reviewed analysis of California data, also published earlier this year in Addictive Behaviors magazine, undermines Project SAM’s claims.
“Findings suggest that legalizing recreational marijuana sales has had a negligible overall impact on the days of consumption among young adults, but may have sparked an increased interest in marijuana in some, particularly women and e-cigarette users . “
“Small” increase in “cannabis use disorder”
So teenagers don’t go to the hospital for a pot, and they stop using it in most surveys, but are those who use it getting worse?
Kilmer noted that a 2020 study by JAMA Psychiatry that looked at “cannabis use disorder” found a “small” increase in teenagers struggling to stop the pot.
The disorders increased in the group of 12 to 17 year olds – from 2.18% of this population to 2.72%.
Dr. Jami Wolf-Dolan, a New York City-based psychologist, is looking for signs of using larger amounts for longer than intended and incapable of managing things like work, home, and school.
Is cannabis addicting?
“Essentially, when you find yourself increasingly reliant on marijuana as a coping skill to manage stress. numb from; avoid; Reduce the fear, ”she said.
Teenagers who use cannabis are at risk of impairing their cognitive skills and memory, she claims.
As always, however, such claims must be supported by empirical evidence.
Actual scans of former adolescent stoner brains published in 2019 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found “no differences in adult brain structure” between subjects who reported heavy cannabis use in their adolescence and those who reported occasional Reported use, and those who reported no use, the researchers wrote.
The drug war propaganda of the 1930s claimed that marijuana was an “assassin of the youth” when in reality the war on drugs remains an assassin of the truth.
Ellen Holland is an Oakland-based journalist who has been writing about cannabis since 2013. As the former senior editor of Cannabis Now magazine, she also publishes books on marijuana strains and cultivation.
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