Medical Marijuana Laws Send 'the Wrong Message': Don't Smoke Pot, Kids!

A new study reported in Annals of Epidemiology finds that, contrary to drug czar Gil Kerlikowske's warnings, passage of medical marijuana laws is not associated with increases in adolescent pot smoking. Analyzing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers at McGill University found that teenagers in states that enact such laws are more apt to smoke pot, but that is because of pre-existing differences. It seems "states with higher use are more likely to enact laws." The researchers found little evidence that allowing patients to use marijuana as a medicine makes teenagers more likely to use it recreationally. "If anything," they write, "our estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease after passing MMLs [medical marijuana laws]." They say such an effect "could be plausibly explained by social desirability bias or greater concern about enforcement of recreational marijuana use among adolescents after the passage of laws." Evidently Kerlikowske is wrong to worry that linking a drug to cancer and AIDS patients makes it seem cooler to the kids. 

These results are consistent with the conclusions of reports from the Marijuana Policy Project and the Institute for the Study of Labor, both of which found no increase in adolescent use attributable to medical marijuana laws. The latter study did, however, find an increase in adult consumption, which was associated with a decline in traffic fatalities. 

[via Paul Armentano at NORML]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I certainly think things are way cooler once they're legally used for medical purposes. Why do you think I rock this colostomy bag?

  • Almanian||

    Uhh, drugs are bad, mmmkay?

  • ||

    Thank goodness our President put a stop to wasteful and unproductive persecution of medical marijuana providers and users.

    It's like he legalized it!

  • AlmightyJB||

    That's as bad as the gateway drug myth which is bullshit.

  • ||

    Classifying marijuana and heroin in the same Schedule sends kids the message that heroin is no more dangerous than pot. This is a very dangerous message for the federal government to send to our kids! Now when they see a friend perfectly ok after smoking a little herb they have a valid reason to think that they'll be just as ok after taking some heroin - after all, that's why they're classified in the same Schedule, isn't it?

    Even more than this though, the federal marijuana prohibition stands in our way of preventing a great deal of harm that's currently being inflicted on our society. With alcohol causing 75,000 unnecessary deaths each year and multiple adverse health consequences, including cirrhosis of the liver, cancers, unintentional injuries, and violence, it's time we acted to prevent much of this misery by giving people the right to use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol.

    States that have passed medical cannabis laws have seen a 9% drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities because people in those states are using cannabis to help them consume less alcohol. We could save the lives of *many* more good, hardworking people by giving ALL people the right to substitute cannabis for alcohol.

    Cannabis has repeatedly been proven to NOT cause cancer, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease, emphysema, or any other significant health issue, and its addiction potential is about on par with coffee – which makes it far safer than alcohol and an excellent tool to use to consume less alcohol and prevent much unnecessary harm.

  • Zeb||

    Just saving people from the threat of jail or fines is good enough for me.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Classifying marijuana and heroin in the same Schedule sends kids the message that heroin is no more dangerous than pot. This is a very dangerous message for the federal government to send to our kids! Now when they see a friend perfectly ok after smoking a little herb they have a valid reason to think that they'll be just as ok after taking some heroin - after all, that's why they're classified in the same Schedule, isn't it?

    I agree in principle, but there's one thing that just can't go without saying: kids have no idea about drug scheduling. To think that they'll pay attention to how drugs are categorized in federal law is really fucking stupid.

  • ||

    So the prohibition's a good thing as long as we keep kids ignorant? Sounds like nonsense to me. If the prohibition's such a good policy then we should be able to tell kids all about it, not hide its details from them because they make no sense.

    Kids know you can't die from cannabis, the government telling them that it's so dangerous that they'll be arrested just for possessing some of its flowers does nothing but undermine the efforts of parents to keep them safe from truly dangerous drugs.

    We need the government to perform an honest cost-benefit analysis on the federal marijuana prohibition - if its benefits outweigh its costs then by all means keep it, but if its costs outweigh its benefits then WHY do we have it at all?? We don't have laws to make us LESS safe!

    And the government's claim that one of the benefits of the prohibition is the "message" it sends to kids is pure nonsense. Kids know when they're being lied to, all this law achieves is to drive a wedge between the young folk of society and the government and law enforcement personnel that we'd like them to look up to. Shame.

  • Impressionable Teen||

    Grandma has a colostomy bag! It looks soooooooooooo cool, I want one!

    Can I get a motorized wheelchair too? those things are bitchin'!

  • ||

    Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child or grandchild thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains.
    If the people who want to use marijuana could grow a few plants in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes; it would put the drug gangs out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods.

  • ||

    Listening to the drug czar is a laughable idea. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, often called the "congressional watchdog". In 2003 a Congressman wrote a letter to the GAO asking for an investigation of the ONDCP's (Office of National Drug Control Policy) dissemination of “misleading information” (a polite euphemism for “lying”).

    The response was as follows:

    ONDCP is specifically charged with the responsibility for “taking such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use” of certain controlled substances such as marijuana —- a responsibility which logically could include the making of advocacy statements in opposition to legalization efforts. The Deputy Director’s statements about marijuana are thus within the statutory role assigned to ONDCP. Given this role, we do not see a need to examine the accuracy of the Deputy Director’s individual statements in detail.

    Basically saying they are allowed to lie to the American people if that is what it takes to keep marijuana illegal.

  • buy3buy.com||

    click

  • ||

    * Do you wish to greatly reduce, even almost eliminate the market in illegal narcotics? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

    * Do you wish to bring about an enormous reduction in the presence and influence of organized crime? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

    * Do you wish to reduce harm to the existing users and addicts - who may be your children, brothers, sisters, parents or neighbors - by allowing them safe and controlled legal access, which will greatly minimizing the possibility of 'peer-initiation' and sales to minors? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

    * Do you wish to see a reduction in the number of users or addicts, thus greatly curtailing drug related illness and deaths, while also reducing societal harm from problematic abusers? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

  • Senior Planning Services||

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understand more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission. very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement