Report: Teen Marijuana Use, Treatment Admissions Fall In Washington State Post-Legalization
Olympia, WA: The regulation of adult cannabis use in Washington is not associated with any increase in teens' marijuana consumption or abuse rates, according to a report to the state legislature compiled by researchers at the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
Authors reported that rates of current marijuana use and lifetime marijuana use have fallen among young people since lawmakers enacted legalization in 2012. These declines were most pronounced among 8th and 10th graders.
Among adults, rates of cannabis use have increased. However, there has been no corresponding rise in adults' use of alcohol or tobacco, or in the number of adults seeking treatment for marijuana abuse during this time period.
Researchers concluded: "We found no evidence that I-502 enactment, on the whole, affected cannabis abuse treatment admissions. ... [and] we found no evidence that the amount of legal cannabis sales affected youth substance use or attitudes about cannabis or drug-related criminal convictions."
Separate studies from Colorado and Oregon similarly report that the enactment of adult use marijuana regulations has not adversely impacted youth use patterns in those states.
Full text of the report, "I-502 Evaluation and Benefit-Cost Analysis: Second Required report," appears online.
Analysis: Marijuana Diversion From Legal To Illegal States Is Unlikely
San Diego, CA: There is little evidence to substantiate claims that large quantities of cannabis produced legally in adult use states are being diverted to neighboring jurisdictions where the plant remains illegal, according to an analysis published online ahead of print in the Boston College Law Review.
A professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego argues, "As constructed, marijuana legalization laws make it unlikely that legally produced marijuana will be diverted to other states for sale." This is because existing adult use regulatory laws place limits regarding the quantities of cannabis that may be legally grown and distributed, enforce oversight measures like 'seed-to-sale' tracking, and impose numerous regulatory fees that inflate production costs to a level that makes it difficult for legal providers to undercut black market retail prices.
The paper further argues that the ease at which marijuana may be readily obtained at relatively low cost, even in states where it remains illegal, is a disincentive to criminal entrepreneurs from smuggling legally produced cannabis from one state to another.
"This is not to say the impact of current state legalization laws on marijuana use in neighboring states is zero," the author concludes. "But there is little reason to believe it is or will be 'substantial.'"
Claims made by members of law enforcement that the imposition of adult use regulations are adversely impacting neighboring states have largely not been validated. In 2016, the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit brought by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt which was largely based on this claim.
Full text of the paper, "Marijuana legalization and nosy neighbor states," is available online.
Study: Military Veterans More Likely To Consume Cannabis For Therapeutic Purposes
Ann Arbor, MI: Nearly half of military veterans who report having used cannabis in the past year did so for medical purposes, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
A team of investigators from the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor VA Center for Clinical Management Research assessed the prevalence of marijuana use among a nationally representative sample of military veterans.
Among those respondents who acknowledged past year cannabis use, 41 percent classified their use as medical - a percentage that is twice as high as is reported by adults in the general population. Veterans who used cannabis for therapeutic purposes were less likely to meet criteria for alcohol use disorder and were less likely to engage in recent heavy episodic alcohol use as compared to those respondents who reported using marijuana for non-medical purposes.
Authors concluded, "For policy-makers it is important to know that medical cannabis use is already common among veterans so they are likely to be disproportionately affected by any changes in the legal status of medical and/or recreational cannabis use."
In August, the American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization, adopted a resolution calling on federal officials to expand veterans' access to medical marijuana. Many veterans are turning to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.
Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted in July in favor of a budget amendment to the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that permits VA doctors to legally recommend cannabis to military veterans. An identical amendment was proposed in the House but was halted from consideration by House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX).
Full text of the study, "Recent cannabis use among veterans in the United States: Results from a national sample," appears in Addictive Behaviors.