*The following is excerpted from an online article from HealthDay.
Teens who see ads for medical marijuana are much more likely to use the drug, a new study suggests.
Researchers looked at more than 8,200 students in grades 6, 7 and 8 at 16 middle schools in Southern California in 2010 and 2011.
In the first year, 22 percent of the students said they had seen at least one ad for medical marijuana in the past three months. That number rose to 30 percent the following year.
Students who saw medical marijuana ads were twice as likely as others to either have used marijuana or say they intended to use it in the future, according to the RAND Corp. study published online recently in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
The study does not prove that seeing medical marijuana ads makes teens more likely to use marijuana, but it does raise a number of concerns, the investigators said.
"As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it's important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug," study author Elizabeth D'Amico, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, said in a news release from the nonprofit research organization.
"The lessons we have learned from alcohol -- a substance that is legal, but not necessarily safe -- may provide guidance about approaches we need to take toward marijuana," she added.