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One Study Says Legalizing Pot Doesn't Increase Teen Use, Another Links It To Health Problems

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Medical marijuana (Photo by Atomazul via Shutterstock)
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Two studies on marijuana were released this week that will surely fuel arguments both for and against legalization.The Journal of Adolescent Health released a study comparing 20 years of data from states that have legalized medical marijuana versus those that haven’t, The Huffington Post noted. The study concluded that legalization of medical marijuana does not cause more high school students to illegally use the drug.

Dr. Esther Choo, lead author on the report, told The Huffington Post the study was based on anonymous, self-reported usage of marijuana by high school students, which has been shown to provide reliable estimates of actual drug use, she said. The study showed “no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing.”

Choo clarifies her own personal investment in the study:

“My other research involves designing programs to reduce drug use among high risk populations, and I'm also a parent of three young children. So I don’t reflexively advocate for increasing the availability of recreational drugs. But as a physician, I see a lot of patients with chronic conditions who do not respond well to existing therapies. This study arose both from my concern for potential negative consequences of medical marijuana and my desire to not automatically write off such policies because of my fears.”
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Meanwhile, a mandated French tracking system showed nearly 2,000 cases in that country where patients showed serious health problems associated with marijuana usage, the Los Angeles Times reported. In those cases, nearly 2% had cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke, and about a quarter of those cases resulted in death.

While most experts aren't ringing alarm bells just yet about the new data, cardiologists in the Journal of the American Heart Association said on Wednesday that “clinical evidence ... suggests the potential for serious cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use.” They called for more collection of data regarding how marijuana affects cardiovascular function.

Emilie Jouanjus, lead author of the French study, which was also published in the same journal, said: “There is now compelling evidence on the growing risk of marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in young people.”