Impacts of Medical Marijuana Laws on Young Americans Across the Developmental Spectrum

Abstract

Introduction State legalization of marijuana for medical purposes could increase illicit marijuana use among young people. Medical marijuana laws may boost the availability of marijuana and reduce perceptions of its harmfulness, leading more young people to try it. Prior studies report little evidence that these laws are impacting marijuana consumption by young Americans, and none have systematically compared developmentally distinct age groups. Methods We performed multilevel, serial cross-sectional analyses on ten annual waves of U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, from 2004 to 2013, comparing young people in states with and without medical marijuana laws. Disaggregated analyses compared multiple measures of marijuana use across approximately 450,300 individuals in early adolescence (12–14 years), late adolescence (15–17 years) and young adulthood (18–25 years). Results Dwelling in a state that had legalized medical marijuana was not associated with marijuana consumption in the past month among early adolescents, late adolescents or young adults. However, young adults living in medical marijuana states were significantly more likely to have initiated first use in the past year. Conclusions Medical marijuana laws increase the likelihood that young adults will start using marijuana but do not affect more vulnerable developmental groups in early and late adolescence. Delaying the age of first use into young adulthood can reduce the risk of a drug use disorder later in life. Young adults are in the peak years of engagement with illicit drugs and state medical marijuana laws appear to be leading larger numbers to try the drug.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Anderson, D. M., Hansen, B., & Rees, D. I. (2012). Medical marijuana laws and teen marijuana use. American Law and Economics Review, 17(2), 495–528.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, D. M., Hansen, B., & Rees, D. I. (2013). Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption. Journal of Law and Economics, 56(2), 333–369. https://doi.org/10.1086/668812.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Asbridge, M., Hayden, J. A., & Cartwright, J. L. (2012). Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk: systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis. BMJ, 344, e536.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Babor, T., Brown, J., & Boca, F. D. (1990). Validity of self-reports in applied research on addictive behaviors: Fact or fiction? Behavioral Assessment, 12, 5–31.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Babor, T. F., Edwards, P. C. J., Fischer, G., Foxcroft, B., Humphreys, D. R., Reuter, K., P (2010). Drug Policy and the Public Good. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bachman, J. G., Wadsworth, K. N., O’Malley, P. M., Johnston, L. D., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2013). Smoking, drinking, and drug use in young adulthood: The impacts of new freedoms and new responsibilities. New jersey: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cerdá, M., Wall, M., Keyes, K. M., Galea, S., & Hasin, D. (2012). Medical marijuana laws in 50 states: Investigating the relationship between state legalization of medical marijuana and marijuana use, abuse and dependence. Drug And Alcohol Dependence, 120(1), 22–27.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Chapman, S. A., Spetz, J., Lin, J., Chan, K., & Schmidt, L. A. (2016). Capturing heterogeneity in medical marijuana policies: A taxonomy of regulatory regimes across the United States. Substance Use & Misuse, 51(9), 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Choo, E. K., Benz, M., Zaller, N., Warren, O., Rising, K. L., & McConnell, K. J. (2014). The impact of state medical marijuana legislation on adolescent marijuana use. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(2), 160–166.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Compton, W. M., Grant, B. F., Colliver, J. D., Glantz, M. D., & Stinson, F. S. (2004). Prevalence of marijuana use disorders in the United States: 1991–1992 and 2001–2002. JAMA, 291(17), 2114–2121. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.291.17.2114.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Dawson, D. A., Grant, B. F., Stinson, F. S., & Chou, P. S. (2006). Maturing out of alcohol dependence: The impact of transitional life events. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 67(2), 195–203.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Degenhardt, L., Hall, W., & Lynskey, M. (2003). Testing hypotheses about the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 71(1), 37–48.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Feeney, K. E., & Kampman, K. M. (2016). Adverse effects of marijuana use. The Linacre Quarterly, 83(2), 174–178.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Flory, K., Lynam, D., Milich, R., Leukefeld, C., & Clayton, R. (2004). Early adolescent through young adult alcohol and marijuana use trajectories: Early predictors, young adult outcomes, and predictive utility. Development and psychopathology, 16(01), 193–213.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Franz, C. A., & Frishman, W. H. (2016). Marijuana use and cardiovascular disease. Cardiology in Review, 24(4), 158–162.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Froot, K. A. (1989). Consistent covariance matrix estimation with cross-sectional dependence and heteroskedasticity in financial data. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, 24(03), 333–355.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Gorman, D. M., & Charles Huber, J. Jr. (2007). Do medical cannabis laws encourage cannabis use? International Journal of Drug Policy, 18(3), 160–167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2006.10.001

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Hadland, S. E., Knight, J. R., & Harris, S. K. (2015). Medical marijuana: Review of the science and implications for developmental-behavioral pediatric practice. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 36(2), 115–123. https://doi.org/10.1097/dbp.0000000000000129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hall, W., & Weier, M. (2015). Assessing the public health impacts of legalising recreational cannabis use in the USA. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 97(6), 607–615. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpt.110.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Harper, S., Strumpf, E. C., & Kaufman, J. S. (2012). Do medical marijuana laws increase marijuana use? replication study and extension. Annals Epidemiology, 22(3), 207–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.12.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Hartman, R. L., Brown, T. L., Milavetz, G., Spurgin, A., Pierce, R. S., Gorelick, D. A., et al. (2016). Cannabis effects on driving longitudinal control with and without alcohol. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 36(11), 1418–29

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Hasin, D. S., Wall, M., Keyes, K. M., Cerdá, M., Schulenberg, J., O’Malley, P. M., et al.(2015). Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the usa from 1991 to 2014: Results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(7), 601–608. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00217-5.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Jacobi, L., & Sovinsky, M. (2016). Marijuana on main street? estimating demand in markets with limited access. American Economic Review, 106(8), 2009–2045.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Joffe, A., & Yancy, W. S. (2004). legalization of marijuana: Potential impact on youth. Pediatrics, 113(6), e632–e638.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., & Bachman, J. G. (2016). Monitoring The Future National Survey Results On Drug Use,1975–2015: Overview, Key Findings On Adolescent Drug Use. Ann Arbor.

  26. Kandel, D. B. (1980). Drug and drinking behavior among youth. Annual Review of Sociology, 6(1), 235–285.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Krupnick, M. (2016). High times and agency unite to sell marijuana to mainstream, The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/business/media/high-times-and-agency-unite-to-sell-marijuana-to-mainstream.html?_r=3.

  28. Li, M. C., Brady, J. E., DiMaggio, C. J., Lusardi, A. R., Tzong, K. Y., & Li, G. (2012). Marijuana use and motor vehicle crashes. Epidemiologic Reviews, 34(1), 65–72. https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxr017.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Lynne-Landsman, S. D., Livingston, M. D., & Wagenaar, A. C. (2013). Effects of state medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use. American Journal of Public Health, 103(8), 1500–1506. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301117.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Lynskey, M. T., Heath, A. C., Bucholz, K. K., et al. (2003). Escalation of drug use in early-onset cannabis users versus co-twin controls. JAMA, 289(4), 427–433. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.289.4.427.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Meier, M. H., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Keefe, R. S. E., et al. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(40). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1206820109.

  32. Merline, A. C., O’Malley, P. M., Schulenberg, J. E., Bachman, J. G., & Johnston, L. D. (2004). Substance use among adults 35 years of age: prevalence, adulthood predictors, and impact of adolescent substance use. American Journal of Public Health, 94(1), 96–102.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Midanik, L. (1982). The validity of self-reported alcohol consumption and alcohol problems: A literature review. British Journal of Addiction, 77, 357–382.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2011). Person-Level Sampling Weight Calibration. Maryland: Rockville.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Nussbaum, A. M., Thurstone, C., McGarry, L., Walker, B., & Sabel, A. L. (2015). Use and diversion of medical marijuana among adults admitted to inpatient psychiatry. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 41, 166–172. https://doi.org/10.3109/00952990.2014.949727.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. POLIDATA. Demographic & political guides: Political data analysis. http://www.polidata.org.

  37. Richter, K. P., & Levy, S. (2014). Big marijuana–lessons from big tobacco. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(5), 399–401. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMp1406074.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Robins, L. N. (1984). The natural history of adolescent drug use. American Journal of Public Health, 74(7), 656.

    PubMed Central  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Rogeberg, O., & Elvik, R. (2016). The effects of cannabis intoxication on motor vehicle collision revisited and revised. Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.13347.bib>

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Rogers, W. (1993). Quantile regression standard errors. Stata Technical Bulletin, 2(9).

  41. Room, R., Fischer, B., Hall, W., Lenton, S., & Reute, P. (2010). Cannabis policy: Moving beyond stalemate. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Saloner, B., McGinty, E. E., & Barry, C. L. (2015). Policy strategies to reduce youth recreational marijuana use. Pediatrics, 135(6), 955–957.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. SAMHDA. (2011). National survey on drug use and health, 2011. Ann Arbor, MI: SAMHDA.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Schmidt, L. A., Jacobs, L. M., & Spetz, J. (2016). Young people’s more permissive views about marijuana: Local impact of state laws or national trend? American Journal of Public Health, 106(8), 1498–1503.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. StataCorp. (2015). Stata statisitical software: Release 14. College station. TX: StataCorp LP.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Stuart, E. A., & Green, K. M. (2008). Using full matching to estimate causal effects in nonexperimental studies: Examining the relationship between adolescent marijuana use and adult outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 44(2), 395–406. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.44.2.395.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Youth Perception of Marijuana Harm Decreases as “710” Becomes More Potent. http://newsletter.samhsa.gov/2016/05/25/710-oil-risks/.

  48. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. (2009). Health and safety code sect. 25249.8(b) and title 27, cal code of regs., Sect. 25302 et seq.A. Availability of Hazard Identification Materials for Marijuana Smoke. Retrieved April 2, 2017 from http://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/crnr/availability-hazard-identification-materials-marijuana-smoke.

  49. Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. B. (2014). Adverse health effects of marijuana use. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(23), 2219–2227. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra1402309.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. Volkow, N. D., Swanson, J. M., Evins, A. E., DeLisi, L. E., Meier, M. H., Gonzalez, R., et al. (2016). Effects of cannabis use on human behavior, including cognition, motivation, and psychosis: A review. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(3), 292–297.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Wall, M. M., Poh, E., Cerdá, M., Keyes, K. M., Galea, S., & Hasin, D. S. (2011). Adolescent marijuana use from 2002 to 2008: Higher in states with medical marijuana laws, cause still unclear. Annals of Epidemiology, 21(9), 714–716.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Wen, H., Hockenberry, J. M., & Ciummings, J. R. (2014). The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana, Alcohol, and Hard Drug Use. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 20085.

  53. Wen, H., Hockenberry, J. M., & Cummings, J. R. (2015). The effect of medical marijuana laws on adolescent and adult use of marijuana, alcohol, and other substances. Journal of Health Economics, 42, 64–80.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Williams, R. L. (2000). A note on robust variance estimation for cluster-correlated data. Biometrics, 56(2), 645–646.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. Wooldridge, J. M. (2002). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank our colleagues who assisted in the data collection and technical execution of this manuscript, including Timothy Bates MA, Susan Chapman PhD, Casey Palmer MS, and Juliana Fung of the University of California at San Francisco. We would also like to acknowledge staff at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration and the University of Michigan for their assistance in data acquisition and management. This study was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant No. R01 DA034091) but played no role in the design and conduct of the study; data collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or in the preparation of this manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laura A. Schmidt.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic Supplementary Material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 52 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Schmidt, L.A., Jacobs, L.M., Vlahov, D. et al. Impacts of Medical Marijuana Laws on Young Americans Across the Developmental Spectrum. Matern Child Health J 23, 486–495 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-018-2656-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Marijuana
  • Medical marijuana laws
  • Development of substance abuse
  • Adolescence
  • Young adulthood