Contrary to popular prohibitionist belief, being open with your kids about cannabis isn't likely to encourage them to consume it.

This seems to be one of the key takeaways from a new study by the University of Washington, which found no evidence that talking to pre-teens about alcohol, drug and tobacco use will prompt them to experiment with said substances.  

The study – conducted by the UW Social Development Research Group and published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health – studied the changing behaviours of fifth- and sixth-graders via school-based surveys.

Among two groups of students – one polled in fifth and sixth grade and another polled solely in sixth grade – researchers found that substance use did not increase in the wake of survey participation.

“We hope [this] puts community members at ease about collecting data in the schools for prevention purposes. It's a relatively unobtrusive, inexpensive method to gather data,” said study author John Briney.

“Communities can use data to guide prevention efforts and not worry they're harming students.”

Researchers relied on a 2,000-student sample of respondents in the Community Youth Development Study, which was conducted in seven states. In these surveys, students answered written questions about recent and long-term use of cigarettes alcohol, inhalants and cannabis.

About 10.4 percent of sixth-graders first surveyed in fifth grade reported having smoked cigarettes during their lifetime; 20.8 percent had used alcohol; 10.8 percent has used inhalants; and 2.6 percent had smoked cannabis.

These rates were lower than those among the control group of sixth-graders, of whom 12.6 percent copped to smoking cannabis and 23.6 percent said they drank alcohol.

Briney explained that if taking the surveys had encouraged those in the initial group of fifth-graders to use the these substances, then usage rates when they were in sixth grade should have been higher than those of the control group of sixth-graders.

"The study answered an important question—whether asking about substance use at a young age encourages use. We didn't think it would, and the data show that asking about drug use doesn't increase use," he said.

Briney and his research team concluded that there is value – and not necessarily harm – in talking to kids about substance use.

h/t Medical XPress