Cannabis use disorder is waning among adolescents

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The myth that legalized cannabis leads to adolescent consumption is busted

Cannabis use disorder is not on the rise as a result of cannabis legalization as opponents had suggested would happen. In fact, according to a new study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, just the opposite is happening. The results of a study led by researchers with the school have been published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence medical journal, and shows that cannabis use disorder is declining in the adolescent population.

From 2002 to 2016, the number of people reporting cannabis use disorder has decreased across all age groups. The adolescent age group, 12-17, saw a 27% decrease and those from 18-25 had a 30% drop.

Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, explains, “Contrary to expectations, the frequency of cannabis use disorder among people reporting daily/almost daily use decreased significantly between 2002-2016. The findings contradict the predominating hypothesis that the prevalence of DSM-IV CUD would be stable, or increase, among those using with this regularity.”

There were also decreases in the number of self-reported instances of driving under the influence of illegal drugs in the same period. Martins adds, “There could be several reasons behind these declining rates. First, the new national cannabis policy environment, with 33 states legalizing medical use and ten states allowing recreational use of cannabis may have played a role in reducing stigma and perceptions of risk associated with cannabis use. Secondly, increasing legalization may also be associated with changes in social attitudes resulting in fewer conflicts with relatives and friends around cannabis use.”