Legalization of Recreational Marijuana and Community Sales Policy in Oregon: Impact on Adolescent Willingness and Intent to Use, Parent Use, and Adolescent Use

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Abstract

Studies investigating the impact of medical marijuana legalization have found no significant changes in adolescent use. In one of the few studies focused on recreational marijuana, we investigated how recreational marijuana legalization and community sales policy influenced factors that likely impact youth use (youth willingness and intent to use, parent use) as well as youth use. Legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon coincided with our study on adolescent substance use. Cohort 1 transitioned from 8th to 9th grade prior to legalization and Cohort 2 made this transition during legalization (N = 444; 53% female). Communities were allowed to opt out of sales. Multivariate linear regression models estimated the impact of legalization and community sales policy on changes in attitudes and parent use (2 time points 1 year apart). Zero-inflated Poisson growth curve models estimated the effects on initial levels and rate of change from 8th through 9th grade (4 time points). In communities opting out of sales, the prior-to-legalization cohort was less likely to increase their willingness and intent to use marijuana, and the legalization cohort was more likely to increase intent to use. For youth who used marijuana, legalization was associated with increased use, and those in communities opting out of sales had greater growth in marijuana use. Community policy appears to impact youth attitudes toward, and use of, marijuana. Results suggest that legalization of recreational marijuana did not increase marijuana use for youth who did not use marijuana but did increase use in youth who were already using.

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