A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan reveals that teens using medical marijuana are 10 times more likely to say they are “hooked” on the drug than their peers who get it illegally.
In the study, which was carried out among 4,394 high school students, 48 teens had medical marijuana cards, but 266 teens used medical marijuana without a card.
All three marijuana users were taken into account: Students who have a medical marijuana card, students who used the marijuana from a person who has a card, and students who got their “fix” from nonmedical sources such as street dealers. For each group, researchers analyzed five risk behaviors connected to marijuana and other drug use.
The results showed that teens who used medical marijuana belonging to someone else were at the highest risk for engaging in all five risky behaviors, including using marijuana more frequently to get high.
But unlike the card holding medical marijuana users, who were 10 times more likely to say they were “hooked” to marijuana, the non-card holding medical marijuana users were just four times more likely to say they were “hooked.”
What’s interesting to note is that, the largest group of users – students who got marijuana from nonmedical sources, such as street dealers – had the lowest likelihood of engaging in the risky behaviors.
While the data suggests that medical marijuana cards are aiding teen addiction, Carol Boyd, the study’s lead author and professor at the U of M’s School of Nursing, has a different take. She said she doesn’t believe that medical marijuana use is necessarily creating teen addiction to marijuana. According to her, the data illuminates shortcomings in medical marijuana policy.
“I think that medical marijuana laws are failed policy because more non-card holding youth use medical marijuana than card-holding youth,” said Boyd.
The complete study along with the results are available online and will soon be published in the August edition of Journal of Adolescent Health. The study used data from the 2012 and 2013 Monitoring the Future study, an ongoing study conducted at U of M’s Institute for Social Research.