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New Research on young adults' consumption of alcohol & cigarettes following cannabis legalisation

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Research on the topic of cannabis, its affects on young adults and changed patterns of drug consumption post marijuana legalisation challenges long-held public misconceptions.

New research from the University of Washington investigated the trends in alcohol, nicotine and non-prescribed pain reliever consumption post marijuana legalization in Washington State. A cohort of 12694 young adults aged between 18 and 25 was the population of the study between 2014 and 2019.

While it is publicly often argued that cannabis consumption by young adults leads to spillover effects, the study uncovered the opposite association. The authors concluded that legalisation of nonmedical cannabis in Washington State coincided with decreases in alcohol, heavy episode drinking (HED) and cigarette use as well as the prevalence of pain reliever misuse. However, the usage of e-cigarettes increased since 2016.

This research further dismantles the long held view that cannabis is a 'gateaway" drug, as empirical evidence is mounting that cannabis legalization is associated with a decrease of other legal drugs (alcohol & nicotine) as well as prescription medication/ opioids.

The academic article's abstract, “Trends in alcohol, cigarette, e-cigarette, and nonprescribed pain reliever use among young adults in Washington state after legalization of nonmedical cannabis,” is available online here.

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