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An important new study tried to figure out if ‘bad’ kids smoke pot or if smoking pot makes kids behave badly.

There’s very little research on the effects of marijuana.


When it comes to cannabis, there are a number of powerful misconceptions.

For years, it was called a gateway drug, but evidence suggests that’s far from true. The biggest gateway has always been and continues to be, alcohol. But in recent years, some advocates of legalization have also downplayed its potential physical and mental health risks, including Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD).

However, one area where just about everyone has agreed is that obviously smoking pot is terrible for teens. And with teenagers now smoking marijuana more regularly than cigarettes, it’s a public health problem that must be addressed.

Well, guess what? It turns out that widely help belief might also be wrong. Or, at least in need of some serious revisions.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania just completed a new study to examine whether smoking pot during adolescence leads to misbehavior. It turns out the “smoking pot is bad for kids” common sense isn’t as black and white as we might think.

Interestingly, the study found: “cannabis use among teens does not appear to lead to greater conduct problems or greater affiliation with other teens who smoke cannabis, associations that previous research had suggested to be possible.”

Conversely, the study suggests that teens who already have behavioral challenges are disproportionately drawn to using marijuana, which may skew the previous research, implying a correlation between cannabis use and “bad” behavior.

Annenberg Public Policy Center

From the study:

“Cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to lead to greater conduct problems or association with cannabis?using peers apart from pre?existing conduct problems. Instead, adolescents who (1) increasingly affiliate with cannabis?using peers or (2) have increasing levels of conduct problems are more likely to use cannabis, and this cascading chain of events appears to predict cannabis use disorder in emerging adulthood.”

Of course, there’s room for nuance when discussing the impact of any mind-altering substance. But this study should make a lot of people rethink their assumptions about cannabis use – both as a threat to young adults but also those who think it can help change, or dilute mental health challenges for other people.

The more we learn about cannabis the more clear it becomes that it’s a far safer, and potentially beneficial, substance than nearly every other “drug,” particularly alcohol. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the risks and complications it poses to some people.

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