A new study from Oregon’s Health and Science University shows that, between the years 2000 and 2020, reports filed with poison control centers for the use of marijuana by children and teenagers rose by 245 percent.
According to ABC News’ report, the study involved the analysis of over 330,000 reports from the National Poison Data System over the previous two decades, which determined that marijuana use saw greater increases over this period than any other substance. The largest increase in the use of marijuana occurred between 2017 and 2020.
Alok Patel, a pediatrician at Stanford Children’s Health, said that the ease of availability for marijuana could be one cause in the spike, pointing out that “Marijuana is readily accessible, in multiple forms, whether at a store, from a friend or relative, or online.”
Conversely, alcohol use decreased over the same period of time before being overtaken by marijuana use in 2014.
Of the different possible forms of marijuana, edibles were responsible for the highest increase in calls to poison control centers; dextromethorphan, which is used in cough medicine, was responsible for the highest number of overall cases over the 20-year period, making up 15 percent of all reports. Marijuana use calls reached their highest level in the years between 2018 and 2020.
The study also reported that the most affected demographic are males between the ages of 16 to 18, regardless of the substance involved.
Researchers suggested that the spike in the years 2017 to 2020 could be the result of the nationwide efforts to legalize marijuana in many different states during those years.
“These are important conversations that need to happen alongside conversations about legalizing marijuana,” Patel added. “While it is true that other substances are far more dangerous when ingested, this doesn’t mean marijuana is harmless… We still have a lot to learn about the long-term effects of marijuana use in the developing adolescent brain.”