As the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida heats up, so does an enduring worry about whether an herb intended for sick adults will end up harming teens, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Evidence is mounting that heavy pot use among young teens can cause serious emotional and physical damage. The fear is that medical marijuana will boost pot consumption by making it more abundant and socially acceptable. Opponents say that is one of medical marijuana’s hidden dangers.
Surveys of teen pot use, however, tend to dispel the theory. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana over two decades, and Florida voters will decide in November. Yet reported pot use among teenagers has barely changed since 1996, when California broke the medical marijuana ice and became the first state to legalize its use. Kids do smoke more pot in the West and New England — where medical marijuana abounds — but that was true before the laws were passed. Most states, whether they allow medical marijuana or not, follow broad national trends. Teen usage might rise for a while in a medical marijuana state like Oregon but it also happens in conservative Texas. Usage may drop in Alabama, but also in Colorado, a marijuana mecca. As more states have joined the ranks, reported teen use has remained essentially flat.