Slew of New Research Mounts on Failures of Marijuana Legalization: Pot Shops Linked to More Youth Use, More Crime, No Reductions in Drinking

Over the past several years, states that have legalized marijuana have suffered from a wide array of unintended consequences. States with legal marijuana continue to see a thriving black market, increases in youth drug use, a rise in fatal drugged driving crashes, and more.

As special interest groups march forward in their push to put profits ahead of health, the evidence regarding the harm caused by legalization continues to mount.  Just this week, three new key pieces of information have emerged that should give politicians and regulators pause as they consider how to move forward.

First, a key study published in the Journal of Primary Prevention examined the association between medical marijuana patients and licensed growers in Oregon.  According to the study, increases in youth marijuana use are associated with the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state:

“Results of multi-level analyses indicated significant positive associations between rates of marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population and the prevalence of past 30-day marijuana use, controlling for youth demographic characteristics. The marijuana patient and grower rates were also inversely associated with parental disapproval of marijuana use, which decreased from 2006 to 2015 and acted as a mediator. These findings suggest that a greater number of registered marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population in Oregon counties was associated with a higher prevalence of marijuana use among youth from 2006 to 2015, and that this relationship was partially attributable to perceived norms favorable towards marijuana use.”

Second, in a sign that does not bode well for the marijuana industry, an NIH-funded study out of Denver found that legal pot shops are linked to higher rates of property crime in surrounding areas. The study found that the density of marijuana businesses was positively related to property crime in nearby areas, as well as marijuana-specific crime. According to the lead author of the study Bridget Freisthler:

“Over time, as marijuana grows in popularity, densities of marijuana outlets may increase, resulting in higher crime…There are definitely negative public health consequences [of legalization], including increased crime.” Read full article at