Nearby Dispensaries Don’t Affect Teen Marijuana Use: Study

Teen Marijuana Use
A new study from California says nearby medical dispensaries don’t affect teen marijuana use. (Image via Getty)

Marijuana opponents have long expressed grave concerns over teen marijuana use especially if dispensaries were in the vicinity of where they lived and pursued activities such as dunking their basketballs.

After sampling 46,646 adolescents in California, a study published in July at the Journal of Adolescent Health has managed to dispel fears over any imminent rise of teen marijuana use in case of nearby dispensaries.

The study by the University of California San Diego Department of Family Medicine and Public Health also included other variables in its research as it factored prices and product variety as well as the proximity of these medical dispensaries to schools.

The authors were: Yuyan Shi, Ph.D., Sharon E. Cummins, Ph.D., and Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D.

“There was no evidence supporting the associations of medical marijuana availability, price, or product variety around school with adolescents’ marijuana use and susceptibility to use,” they said. 

With the mean distance between school and the nearest medical marijuana dispensary was 8.18 miles (13 kilometers) and the median was 3.69 miles, they said: “The distance from school to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary (within 0- to 1-mi and 1- to 3-mi bands) was not associated with adolescents’ use of marijuana in the past month or susceptibility to use marijuana in the future, nor was the weighted count of medical marijuana dispensaries within the 3-mi band of school.”

A representative sample of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 117 randomly selected schools in California were used from the 2015–2016 California Student Tobacco Survey (CSTS).

Unlike Alcohol, Tobacco?

It seems teen marijuana use doesn’t coincide to previous trends seen in adolescents and their tobacco and alcohol consumption especially if the latter two were available.

“Despite the strong relationship between retail outlets and alcohol and tobacco use documented by a number of studies, examination of the associations of medical marijuana dispensaries with marijuana use remains limited,” they wrote.

Also, unlike adults, the researchers cited two studies, which associated the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries with cannabis use by adults.

How About Colorado?

The more than 36 million populated California became the eighth US state on Jan. 1 to legalize recreational marijuana, and the biggest to do so.

While it has entered the realm of uncertainty on how legalization will affect behavior especially that of its teen, it can look in hindsight at Colorado to see how cannabis has made changes there.

Alongside Washington, Colorado was one of the earliest states to effectively allow the sales of cannabis in 2014. Interestingly enough, federal stats showed that the teen use of marijuana declined in Colorado following legalization, the Washington Post reported last year.

In 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health ranked Colorado as No. 1 in the US on its teen marijuana use, but 2017 witnessed a stark drop, making it No. 7 behind Alaska, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The new federal survey data said the rate of adolescent marijuana use in Colorado has fallen to its lowest level in nearly a decade in 2017.

Could this be good news to Canada, which made – marijuana teen use – one of the main reasons for legalizing recreational marijuana on Oct. 17? 

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