Did Youth Cannabis Use Increase after a Minimum Legal Age limit?

A recent study in JAMA Network reports a cross-sectional study with difference-in- analysis of 1005 youths aged 15 to 20 years, although youth cannabis use still increased after the policy change. the increase in past-3-month cannabis use among youths aged 18 to 20 years was 51% lower. However, There was no change in cannabis use among youths aged 15 to 17 years.

In January 2020, a Canadian province raised the minimum legal age (MLA) for cannabis from 18 to 21 years. Although it is believed that a higher minimum legal age will protect youths from the harms of cannabis use, however critics argue that it will push them back to the illegal market.

The study sample included 1005 respondents. And it was found that after policy implementation, the increase in past-3-month cannabis use among youths aged 18 to 20 was 51%, lower. The results were robust to several checks, including accounting for possible confounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cannabis use.

Hence, it was concluded that an increase in the minimum legal age from 18 to 21 years was associated with a significantly lower increase in cannabis use among youths aged 18 to 20 years but no change in cannabis use among those aged 15 to 17 years. These findings can help to alleviate concerns that youths would switch to illegal markets in response to a higher minimum legal age.

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