With legalization gaining traction around the country, more and more states are opting to legalize marijuana for recreational use, much to the detriment of youth and young adults. We know from the large-scale natural experiments being conducted in CO, OR, CA, WA and other states that marijuana legalization results in a large increase in adult use–many of whom are parents. Previous research has shown that adolescents whose parents and peers use marijuana are more likely to use marijuana themselves.

According to a newly published study in JAMA by Bertha Madras and colleagues, parental marijuana use was associated with increased risk of marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use in a study population that included 24,900 adolescents 12-17 years of age.  Compared with adolescents whose parents did not use, adolescents with a mother or father that reported past year marijuana use or 52 days or more of marijuana use in the past year had a significantly higher risk of marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use.

This was the first epidemiological study to examine the effect of parental marijuana use at detailed frequency levels on substance abuse in offspring. These results highlight the need to prevent marijuana use among adults with children, thereby minimizing any potential for inter generational drug use and addiction.