Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in United States. A new study has revealed that adolescents who see advertisements for medical marijuana are twice as likely to either report using marijuana or plan to use it in future, as compared to their peers who had never seen such an advertisement.
Lead author Elizabeth D'Amico and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a US-based non-profit research organization, said, "As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana becomes 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. 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 towards marijuana."
The research team analyzed information collected from 8,214 students who were asked every year about exposure to medical marijuana advertising, marijuana use and their intentions about whether they would use marijuana in the future. During the first survey, 22% of the students reported seeing at least one advertisement for medical marijuana over the past three months and the rate jumped to 30% the following year. Seeing the advertisements for medical marijuana was related to their intentions to use marijuana and their actual marijuana use one year later.
D'Amico said, "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."
The study appears online in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.