Adolescents in substance abuse treatment report using someone else's medical marijuana

July 31, 2012, Elsevier

A study published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that diverted medical marijuana use among adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse is very common.

Study participants from two adolescent substance abuse treatment programs in the Denver metropolitan area were asked questions about their medical marijuana use.121 of 164 adolescents (73.8%) reported using medical marijuana that had been recommended for someone else, also known as diverted medical marijuana, a median of 50 times. In the study, adolescents who used medical marijuana began using marijuana regularly at a younger age, and showed more /dependence and conduct disorder symptoms than adolescents who did not use medical marijuana. Additionally, most of the adolescents rated overall as having slight or no risk.

Recent state and federal policy changes have allowed for more widespread legalized medical marijuana use in Colorado. At the time of the study only 41 adolescents in the state held valid registry identification cards for medical marijuana, which suggests that adolescents using medical marijuana are more likely to have obtained it from adult registered users than from peers. The study also calls into question the adequacy of the safeguards meant to prevent medical marijuana use by individuals to whom it was not recommended, adolescents in particular. As the study authors note, in Colorado, medical marijuana is not handled like other medications that are approved by the U.S. (FDA): once approved for medical marijuana usage, individuals can purchase different amounts or even grow a personal supply.

Lead author Dr. Salomonsen-Sautel said of the study, "Many high-risk in have used diverted medical marijuana on multiple occasions, which implies that substantial diversion is occurring from registered users. Our results support the need for policy changes that protect against diversion of to adolescents."

In a related editorial, Dr. Alessandra Kazura raises questions about the safety and efficacy of marijuana as a medical treatment and discusses the perceptions adolescents may have about marijuana and its potential risks.

Explore further: Study finds legalizing medical marijuana does not increase use among youth

More information: The article "Medical Marijuana Use Among Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment" by Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, Joseph T. Sakai, Christian Thurstone, Robin Corley, Christian Hopfer, (dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2012.04.004) appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 51, Issue 7 (July 2012). Dr. Kazura's related editorial, "Medical Marijuana and Teens: Does an Adjective Make a Difference?" appears in the same issue.

Related Stories

Study finds legalizing medical marijuana does not increase use among youth

November 2, 2011
A Rhode Island Hospital physician/researcher will present findings from a study investigating whether legalizing medical marijuana in Rhode Island will increase its use among youths. Lead author Esther Choo, M.D., M.P.H., ...

Marijuana use may double the risk of accidents for drivers

October 6, 2011
Over 10 million people age 12 or older are estimated to have driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the prior year, according to a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. While marijuana is the most commonly ...

Occasional marijuana use doesn't harm lungs, study finds

January 12, 2012
Smoking marijuana on an occasional basis does not appear to significantly damage the lungs, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.