Study Confirms Teen Cannabis Use Drops in States After Legalization
Marijuana alarmists were dealt a crushing blow thanks to a recent study on teen cannabis use following legalization, NBC News reports.
Legalization opponents have always claimed that lifting prohibition will increase, not decrease, cannabis use in under-aged individuals.
This is not the first time the phenomenon was studied. In fact, the recent research comes on the heels of a 2014 study on high school students’ marijuana use in Washington State before and after legalization. Researchers found that legalization did result in a marginal decline – about 2%, depending on the age group. High school seniors, however did not decrease use, but no increase was observed.
The aforementioned study covered 2014 to 2016. But now, a larger-scale, nationwide study published by Jama Pediatrics has more recent data, covers a broader timeframe and uses a massive sample size. Specifically, it took data from surveys dating between 1993 and 2017, including data from 1.4 million teenage students.
Up until now, studies into this topic were contradictory. But the similarity in results between the Washington report and the new, more comprehensive one are too similar to ignore.
Ultimately, the study confirmed what is predecessor found in Washington State. Based on the numbers, the correlation between legalization and reduced teen use is present on a state and nationwide scale.
Medical vs. Recreational Legalization
Although 33 states passed marijuana reform laws to at least allow medical cannabis, only 11 of those have fully legalized it. According to the study, there is an important distinction.
NBC News explains:
“There was no change linked with medical marijuana legislation but odds of teen use declined almost 10 percent after recreational marijuana laws were enacted… The new results echo a study showing a decline in teen use after sales of recreational pot began in 2014 in Washington state.”
This is hardly surprising, considering how obtaining medical marijuana requires both ID and a patient card.
Age Restriction Likely Responsible
The exact reason for this gradual decline is unknown. However common sense dictates that the inaccessibility of legal cannabis to youth, along with legal dispensaries competing with dealers, makes the drug slightly harder to obtain, both logistically and financially.
According to NBC News:
“One reason may be that it’s harder and costlier for teens to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries than from dealers, said lead author Mark Anderson, a health economist at Montana State University.”
Anderson later addressed the results as they relate to legalization concerns. He explains that this should put some people’s (opponents’) minds at ease:
“[The study] should help to quell some concerns that use among teens will actually go up. This is an important piece when weighing the costs and benefits of legalization.”
Unfortunately, the black market will likely be present for quite some time to supply teens with substandard street products. Even with no black market, teenagers will find ways to obtain cannabis, just like they do with alcohol and cigarettes.
However, they will need to use other means, such as stealing from adults or asking them to purchase the drug for them. In both cases, these issues can be prevented by careful storage and refusing to supply cannabis to minors.
WeedAdvisor’s Interest in Cannabis Reform
Naturally, WeedAdvisor wants to see sweeping legislative changes around marijuana in the United States. This is why it comes as a pleasant surprise that a concern associated with legalization is likely not true.
Of course, this will not stop opponents from using the “increased teen use” argument, just like they still resort to the “gateway drug” claim. Now, we have the information to actually fire back with real evidence. Legalization opponents are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to make their own facts.
Does legalization pose some legitimate concerns about health and safety? Absolutely. But if we are going to address them, we need to let go of debunked claims and focus on what is either researched or needs investigation.
This has always been WeedAdvisor’s mission as an educational medium.