Trends in Adolescent Cannabis-Related Hospitalizations by State Legalization Laws, 2008–2019

Abbey R. Masonbrink, Troy Richardson, Matt Hall, Delwyn Catley, Karen Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: Adolescent cannabis use is associated with adverse health outcomes. The impact of cannabis legalization on adolescent cannabis-related hospitalizations remains unknown. We sought to assess whether state cannabis legalization is associated with adolescent cannabis-related hospitalizations. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of adolescent (11–17 years) hospitalizations at children's hospitals between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2019 using the Inpatient Essentials database. We investigated differences in adolescent cannabis-related diagnosis during a hospitalization by state cannabis legalization status, including states with no legal use to medical cannabis laws (MCLs) and states with MCLs to nonmedical (>21 years old) cannabis laws (NMCLs). Results: Of 1,898,432 adolescent hospitalizations in 18 states and Washington, DC, there were 37,562 (2%) hospitalizations with a cannabis-related diagnosis, with 8,457 (23%) in states with no legal use, 20,444 (54%) in MCL states, and 8,661 (23%) in NMCL states. There was an increase in adjusted odds of a cannabis-related hospitalization in MCL (odds ratio 1.05, 95% confidence interval 1.04–1.06) and NMCL states (odds ratio 1.03, 95% confidence interval 1.02–1.03) between 2008 and 2019. Characteristics associated with the greatest increase in adjusted odds of a cannabis-related hospitalization postpolicy change included adolescents without an underlying mental health or other substance use disorder in MCL and NMCL states (p < .001) and younger age in NMCL states (13 vs. 16 and 17 years old, p = .02 and p = .02). Conclusions: Cannabis-related adolescent hospitalizations at children's hospitals are increasing, with a disproportionate increase postlegalization in states with NMCLs. Interventions are warranted to increase cannabis use identification and treatment among at-risk adolescents in the hospital-based setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1005
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent hospitalizations
  • Marijuana legalization
  • Marijuana use disorder


Dive into the research topics of 'Trends in Adolescent Cannabis-Related Hospitalizations by State Legalization Laws, 2008–2019'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this