Background There is concern that medical marijuana laws (MMLs) could negatively affect adolescents. To better understand these policies, we assess how adolescent exposure to MMLs is related to educational attainment. Methods Data from the 2000 Census and 2001–2014 American Community Surveys were restricted to individuals who were of high school age (14–18) between 1990 and 2012 (n = 5,483,715). MML exposure was coded as: (i) a dichotomous “any MML” indicator, and (ii) number of years of high school age exposure. We used logistic regression to model whether MMLs affected: (a) completing high school by age 19; (b) beginning college, irrespective of completion; and (c) obtaining any degree after beginning college. A similar dataset based on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was also constructed for confirmatory analyses assessing marijuana use. Results MMLs were associated with a 0.40 percentage point increase in the probability of not earning a high school diploma or GED after completing the 12th grade (from 3.99% to 4.39%). High school MML exposure was also associated with a 1.84 and 0.85 percentage point increase in the probability of college non-enrollment and degree non-completion, respectively (from 31.12% to 32.96% and 45.30% to 46.15%, respectively). Years of MML exposure exhibited a consistent dose response relationship for all outcomes. MMLs were also associated with 0.85 percentage point increase in daily marijuana use among 12th graders (up from 1.26%). Conclusions Medical marijuana law exposure between age 14 to 18 likely has a delayed effect on use and education that persists over time.
- Educational attainment
- Medical marijuana laws