In 1996, it became legal for people to get a recommendation from a doctor to use marijuana for medical purposes in California. As the state gears up for a vote on the legality of recreational use in 2016, there are a number of factors that need to be considered including weighing the impact that medical marijuana has had on teenagers. New research suggests that middle school students who saw medical marijuana ads were twice as likely to have used the drug or plan to use it in the future, HealthDay reports.
Medical Marijuana Ads Spur Teenage Use
More than 8,200 middle school students in Southern California were included in the study, teens in sixth through eighth grade. After the first year of the research, 22 percent of the students reported seeing at least one advertisement for medical marijuana in the past three months, according to the article. A year later, that figure had risen to 30 percent.
Since the state passed medical marijuana, the number of advertisements for the drug has grown due to the exponential growth of the industry with every year that passes. The researchers point out that it is not uncommon for medical marijuana ads to appear on and in: television, newspapers, billboards and dispensary storefronts.
“Given that advertising typically tells only one side of the story, prevention efforts must begin to better educate youth about how medical marijuana is used, while also emphasizing the negative effects that marijuana can have on the brain and performance,” said study author, Elizabeth D’Amico of the nonprofit research organization RAND, in a news release.
Using Alcohol As A Guide
“As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it’s important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug,” said D’Amico. “The lessons we have learned from alcohol — a substance that is legal, but not necessarily safe — may provide guidance about approaches we need to take toward marijuana.”
The findings are published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
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