Medical, Recreational Marijuana Legalization Associated With Higher Rates of Youth Suicide, Study Shows

(Psychiatric News) Female youth aged 12 to 24 and youth of both sexes aged 14 to 16 living in states with legalized medical marijuana or recreational marijuana between 2000 and 2019 had higher rates of death by suicide than youth in states with no such laws, according to a report in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

These effects remained significant after controlling for a wide array of possible confounding variables and employing statistical analysis to examine the effect of other state-level variables that might influence suicide rates. The findings translate to nearly 5,000 excess suicide deaths of female adolescents and young adults related to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana legalization in the study period, noted lead author Christopher J. Hammond, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues.

“Given dramatic shifts in cannabis policy over the past 20 years, it is important for clinicians and policymakers to understand potential downstream public health outcomes related to changing cannabis policy,” they wrote.

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