Young adults who live near medical marijuana dispensaries use more often

June 17, 2019

Young adults who live in neighborhoods with more medical marijuana dispensaries use marijuana more frequently than their peers and have more-positive views about the drug, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The associations were strongest among young adults who lived near dispensaries that had storefront signs, suggesting that regulating such advertising could be one strategy if policymakers were concerned about curbing use of marijuana. Based on research from this same project, the city of Los Angeles adopted an ordinance in 2018 to restrict some storefront and billboard advertising.

The study, which examined a group of people aged 18 to 22 who lived in Los Angeles County in 2016-17, is the first to show that storefront marijuana signage is extremely influential and substantially magnifies the associations between higher density of medical marijuana dispensaries with greater use of marijuana and positive views about the drug. The study is published online by the journal Addiction.

"Our findings suggest that as the marijuana retail outlets become more visible and more numerous, they may influence the way that young adults perceive and use marijuana," said Regina Shih, the study's lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, with 33 states now having some type of medical marijuana law. In addition, California and nine other states allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Although research supports some medicinal benefits of marijuana, youth who frequently use marijuana are more likely to experience negative consequences such as increased risk of mental and physical health problems, school drop-out, relationship problems and motor vehicle accidents.

RAND researchers analyzed survey results from 1,887 people aged 18 to 22 who live in Los Angeles County and have been long-term participants in an ongoing RAND project examining multiple factors about the use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Most of those in the study were in college or trade school at the time of the survey.

The study used geocoding techniques and multiple data sources about marijuana businesses to determine the density of medical marijuana dispensaries within four miles of participants' homes. It is the first analysis to account for the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood and medical marijuana card ownership, and used validated methods to locate and verify medical marijuana dispensary availability.

Researchers found that nearly 85 percent of the study participants lived within four miles of 10 or more medical marijuana dispensaries.

Living near more medical marijuana dispensaries was associated with using marijuana on a greater number of days over the past month and with higher positive expectations about marijuana.

Living near more medical marijuana dispensaries that had storefront signage was associated with a four- to six-times larger effect both on marijuana usage and on positive expectations about marijuana.

"Attention is needed on access to marijuana for young adults, as marijuana use is most prevalent among this age group and is also associated with increased risk for several substance use disorders," Shih said.

Researchers say that as the marketplace for medical and recreational marijuana change rapidly, future studies should track whether access to recreational dispensaries influences youth marijuana use and risk factors over time.
-end-
Support for the study was provided by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and National Institute on Aging. Other authors of the study are Anthony Rodriguez, Layla Parast, Eric R. Pedersen, Joan S. Tucker, Wendy M. Troxel, Lisa Kraus, Jordan P. Davis and Elizabeth J. D'Amico.

The RAND Social and Economic Well-Being division seeks to actively improve the health, and social and economic well-being of populations and communities throughout the world.

RAND Corporation

Related Marijuana Articles from Brightsurf:

Teen boys link marijuana use with more, better sex
Teen-age boys exposed to pro-cannabis advertising and social media posts are more likely than female peers to associate marijuana use with improving sexual activity, new research from Washington State University suggests.

Legal marijuana may be slowing reductions in teen marijuana use, study says
A longitudinal study of more than 230 teens and young adults in Washington state finds that teens may be more likely to use marijuana following legalization - with the proliferation of stores and increasing adult use of the drug -- than they otherwise would have been.

Does using marijuana affect a person's risk of stroke?
The jury's still out on whether the use of marijuana may increase the risk of stroke.

Marijuana use among older adults in US
Cannabis use apparently continues to increase among older adults in the U.S. based on findings reported in this research letter.

Is it hemp or marijuana? New scanner gives instant answer
Hemp is technically legal in Texas, but proving that hemp is not marijuana can be a hurdle, requiring testing in a licensed laboratory.

Recreational marijuana availability in Oregon and use among adolescents
New research from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation suggests that legalization and greater retail availability of recreational marijuana is positively associated with marijuana use among adolescents.

Marijuana detected in homicide victims nearly doubles
Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health assessed the time trends in alcohol and marijuana detected in homicide victims and found that the prevalence of marijuana almost doubled, increasing from 22 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2016.

Vaping of marijuana on the rise among teens
Findings from the 2019 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey demonstrate the appeal of vaping to teens, as seen in the increased prevalence of marijuana use as well as nicotine vaping.

Use changes after recreational marijuana legalization
How the legalization of recreational marijuana in some states was associated with changes inĀ marijuana use and cannabis use disorder compared to other states from 2008 to 2016 was the focus of this study.

Teen marijuana use may have next-generation effects
A new study by the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group shows how a parent's use of marijuana, past or present, can influence their child's substance use and well-being.

Read More: Marijuana News and Marijuana Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.