A new study published on May 9 in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows evidence that cannabis legalization has brought down the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes in youth consumers. Entitled “Trends in Alcohol, Cigarette, E-Cigarette, and Nonprescribed Pain Reliever Use Among Young Adults in Washington State After Legalization of Nonmedical Cannabis,” the study includes the analysis of six waves of survey data collected between 2014 and 2019. Researchers from the University of Washington reviewed data which covered approximately 12,500 adolescents.
“Prevalence of past-month alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking (HED), and cigarette use and prevalence of past-year pain reliever misuse decreased, while the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use increased since 2016 (the first year assessed),” researchers wrote about the results. “Across years and age groups, the prevalence of substance use other than cannabis was higher among occasional and frequent cannabis users compared to cannabis nonusers.”
As the years continued and more states began working on legalization programs, many of these consumption habits began to decrease over time. “However, associations between both occasional (1–19 days in the prior month) and frequent (20+ days) cannabis use and pain reliever misuse and between frequent cannabis use and HED weakened over time among individuals ages 21–25.”
“Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized nonmedical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse,” researchers concluded.
However, it is commonly recommended that more studies be conducted to better understand the effects of legalization on youth consumption. “The weakening association of cannabis use with the use of other substances among individuals ages 21–25 requires further research but may suggest increased importance of cannabis-specific prevention and treatment efforts,” researchers wrote.
Many other studies have evaluated the influence of cannabis on