A study released this month confirms what common sense has already told most people: Teens who are dependent on alcohol and use cannabis tend not to achieve adult life goals as well as those who are not.
Teens Who Use Cannabis & Alcohol
Researchers affiliated with the University of Connecticut presented the study this month at the American Public Health Association Meeting in Atlanta.
According to a press release, the report found that teens who are dependent on marijuana or alcohol:
- Attained lower levels of education
- Were less likely to have full-time employment, if male
- Were less likely to get married, if male
- Had lowered socio-economic potential
Elizabeth Harari, psychiatry resident at the University of Connecticut, said in the release that “this study found that chronic marijuana use in adolescence was negatively associated with achieving important developmental milestones in young adulthood.”
The study used information from 1,165 young adults from across the country. They were first assessed at age 12 and then every two years afterward until they reached the ages of 25 to 34.
While the release does not say the exact amounts of alcohol consumption or cannabis use that constituted being “dependent,” the words “chronic” and “heavy use” are used.
About 6 percent of the nation’s 12th graders said in a recent survey that they use marijuana daily.
The study’s findings mirror concerns voiced in states that have legalized marijuana. That has led to Colorado setting aside money from cannabis taxes to fund research into the effects of marijuana and fund outreach programs that teach school-age children about the dangers of drug use.
States with legalized recreational marijuana also operate under the Cole Memo. That directive, written by an assistant attorney general during the Obama Administration, requires states to create a regulated marijuana system only if it does not result in teens having more access to cannabis, among other issues.
Legalization and Teen Cannabis Use
No one argues with the study’s findings. But the larger question might be: Does legalized marijuana lead to more teenagers that use cannabis?
The answer at this point, according to a study released last year, is “no.”
Researchers with Columbia University in New York found that use of marijuana by those 12 to 25 years old did not increase in states where medical marijuana sales are legal.
More study will continue in this area. The University of Connecticut study is ongoing. The National Institutes of Health also is working on a nationwide survey of the effects of marijuana on teens.
In the meantime, the Columbia study recommended that “education campaigns should focus on informing the public of the risks associated with regular marijuana use.”