Study: Young Adults' Consumption Of Alcohol, Cigarettes, Other Substances Fell Following Marijuana Legalization

Retail cannabis sales are associated with decreases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes and pain medications by young adults, according to data published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, reported NORML.

Highlights Of The Study

Researchers with the University of Washington assessed trends in alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain reliever use among a cohort of over 12,500 young adults (ages 18 to 25) in Washington State following adult-use cannabis legalization.

“Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized non-medical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse,” the researchers wrote.

However, they did find that the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use increased post-legalization.

“Our findings add to evidence that the legalization of non-medical cannabis has not led to dramatic increases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and non-prescribed opioids. … The findings indicate that the most critical public health concerns surrounding cannabis legalization and the evolution of legalized cannabis markets may be specific to cannabis use and related consequences,” the authors concluded.

Comments From NORML

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Real-world data from legalization states disputes long-standing claims that cannabis is some sort of ‘gateway’ substance. In fact, in many instances, cannabis regulation is associated with the decreased use of other substances, including many prescription medications.”

Numerous prior studies, including those conducted by The RAND Corporation and the National Academy of Sciences, have disputed the so-called ‘gateway theory’ — concluding, “[M]arijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.”

Additional information is available from NORML’s factsheet, ‘Marijuana and the Gateway Theory.’

Photo By Lelen Ruete

Posted In: CannabisNewsHealth CareMarketsGeneraladdictionNORML Post-LegalizationStudy

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