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Rampant Diversion of Medical Marijuana Alarming

Update Date: Aug 01, 2012 09:09 AM EDT

A latest study has revealed that majority of adolescents in substance abuse use marijuana from a prescribed medical marijuana user.

The study found that diverted medical marijuana use (when it is actually prescribed for someone else) among adolescents is very common.

For the study, the participants from substance abuse treatment programs in the Denver metropolitan area were quizzed on their medical marijuana use. It was found that 121 of 164 adolescents (73.8%) of the adolescents reported diverted medical marijuana use.

It was also found that those who used medical marijuana started the use at a young age and were also more dependent on it when compared to those who did not use medical marijuana. Also, most of the adolescents in the study apparently rated smoking marijuana as a slightly or not risky at all.

Recent policies by the state and federation have allowed extensive usage of legalized medical marijuana in Colorado.

During the study period, a total of 41 adolescents in the state held licenses for the usage of medical marijuana. This suggests that most of the adolescent substance abusers got access to marijuana via an adult and not from peers.

The study also questions the measures taken in order to prevent the usage of marijuana use by individuals to whom it was not prescribed, adolescents in particular.

In Colorado, which does not follow FDA norms, once a person is prescribed with marijuana, he/she can purchase different amounts of the drug and they can also grow their own personal supply.

"Many high-risk adolescent patients in substance abuse treatment 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 medical marijuana to adolescents," lead author Dr. Salomonsen-Sautel said in the press release.

In U.S. 17 states and DC allow medical use of marijuana. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia (DC), Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The study was published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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