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More teens use pot when states legalize recreational marijuana

By HealthDay News
More teens use pot when states legalize recreational marijuana
Researchers found that in states where recreational cannabis use was legal for those 21 and up, young people ages 12 to 20 were more likely to use pot, even though it was illegal for those ages. Photo by lovingimages/Pixabay

Pot use among U.S. minors increases when states legalize recreational cannabis for adults, according to a new study.

University of California, San Diego researchers tracked more than 6,900 youths and almost 15,000 adults, using data from a national assessment. The team found that in states where recreational cannabis use was legal for those 21 and up, young people ages 12 to 20 were more likely to use pot, even though it was illegal for those ages. Adults also had an increased likelihood of cannabis use.

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"Our findings provide useful information to policymakers and public health practitioners interested in understanding the consequences of legalizing recreational cannabis," said principal investigator Yuyan Shi, an associate professor at UC San Diego School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science.

"It's especially concerning that increased cannabis use occurs among young people because of the detrimental health effects associated with cannabis use at a young age, including impaired respiratory function, cardiovascular disease and adverse effects on mental health," Shi said in a university news release.

Study participants came from four states with legal recreational cannabis (California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine), 11 states that allow medical cannabis and 17 states that prohibit cannabis use. States where marijuana is legal can be found here.

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The findings were published online in the May 26 issue of Addiction.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on marijuana and public health.

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