COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY'S MAILMAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Adolescents and young adults living in states with more liberal policies reported higher average rates of past-year cannabis use than those in states with more conservative policies, according to a new study conducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. 

Past year cannabis use was consistently higher in liberal compared to conservative states, and remained significantly higher for ages 12-17 and 18-25 after adjusting for medical cannabis law status. As of December 2018, a total of 33 states had approved medical cannabis laws and eight states plus Washington, D.C. had legalized cannabis use.

Prevalence of cannabis use has increased overall since 2007 which has raised concerns about potential negative consequences associated with problematic use, specifically cannabis use disorder. "These latest findings could directly inform policymakers and public health practitioners about the degree to which other broader contextual factors also influence cannabis use patterns in the U.S.," noted Philbin

"Our study highlights the need for researchers and public health professionals to distinguish between cannabis use and cannabis use disorder when interacting with patients at the individual level and when developing primary prevention strategies and interventions at the population level," said Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology and senior author. "This line of research not only helps identify how state-level policies as a whole impact cannabis use outcomes, but ultimately supports the development of more health-promoting policies."

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