Myth busted: Marijuana use doesn’t lead to behavioral problems in teens

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The latest indications show that the problems already existed pre-marijuana

There have been a number of studies that have tried to assert that marijuana use by teens leads to behavioral problems. However, it is beginning to be shown that there is no link between an increase in issue and marijuana use. In fact, evidence now indicates that the problems already existed.

According to a report that appeared in the journal Addiction, researchers indicate, “Cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to lead to greater conduct problems or association with cannabis‐using peers apart from pre‐existing conduct problems.” However, the inverse of the issue has more support. Behavioral problems, such as shoplifting and school truancy, can be indicators that a teenager uses marijuana.

The conclusion was reached by researchers at the University of Oregon, the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They studied 364 teenagers who had enrolled in the Philadelphia Trajectory Study in 2004 and were able to map out behavioral patterns among the participants that resulted in their findings. They add, “The present findings showed that… conduct problems predicted cannabis use but not vice versa, particularly during mid-late adolescence…Thus… we were able to demonstrate for the first time that increases in conduct problems precede increases in cannabis use within individuals.”

The team also looked at cannabis use disorders (CUD) in teens. Using criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition and comparing them to the responses of the participants, they found that conduct problems were associated with higher rates of CUD. However, they assert that teens with conduct problems “are susceptible to more cannabis use and CUD regardless of whether or not their friends are increasingly using it.”

Myth, busted.