SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 9 — The legalization of recreational marijuana is more attractive to young people who have already used it than those who never showed any interest, a new study revealed Monday.
The study, conducted by the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) and published online by Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, examined the influence of legalization of marijuana on young people after the drugs were legalized in Oregon state on the U.S. northwest coast. Oregon legalized the recreational use of marijuana on July 1, 2015, almost three years before California state followed suit in January 2018.
Legal sales of cannabis began in October 2015 in Oregon. The study surveyed teenagers from 11 rural and suburban middle schools in seven Oregon school districts who answered questions about their marijuana use, attitudes towards marijuana, and willingness to use marijuana.
The ORI study indicated that teenagers who had tried marijuana by the eighth grade were 26 percent more likely to use marijuana the next year than those who were in the ninth grade after marijuana was legalized, compared to those who were in the ninth grade prior to legalization. Young people from communities that prohibited sales of marijuana were less likely to increase willingness and intent to try pot compared to those from communities that later allowed sales, according to the study.
Teenagers from communities with legal sales of cannabis increased marijuana use almost twice as much by the spring of ninth grade compared with other
groups, the study said. The findings of the study “underlined the importance of preventing youth who use marijuana from escalating their use,” noted Julie C. Rusby, principal investigator of the research. The researchers hope their study can serve as a guide for communities and states on prevention campaigns that educate youth of the risks of using marijuana while their brains are still developing. – XINHUA