Understanding Rates of Marijuana Use and Consequences Among Adolescents in a Changing Legal Landscape

Published in: Current Addiction Reports, Volume 4, Issue 4 (December 2017), pages 343-349. doi: 10.1007/s40429-017-0170-y

Posted on RAND.org on November 22, 2017

by Elizabeth J. D'Amico, Joan S. Tucker, Eric R. Pedersen, Regina A. Shih

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Purpose of Review

There is not one answer to address whether marijuana use has increased, decreased, or stayed the same given changes in state legalization of medical and non-medical marijuana in the USA.

Recent Findings

Evidence suggests some health benefits for medical marijuana; however, initiation of marijuana use is a risk factor for developing problem cannabis use. Though use rates have remained stable over recent years, about one in three 10th graders report marijuana use, most adolescents do not view the drug as harmful, and over 650,000 youth aged 12 to 17 struggle with cannabis use disorder.


Although the health benefits of medical marijuana are becoming better understood, more research is needed. Intervention and prevention programs must better address effects of marijuana, acknowledging that while there may be some benefits medically, marijuana use can affect functioning during adolescence when the brain is still developing.

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