Some opponents of cannabis legalization point to the adverse effect that legalization could have on American adolescents – but does making marijuana legal encourage teenage adoption of marijuana use? You may be surprised to learn that a new study found the legalization of cannabis has not led to more teens using marijuana.
Nonetheless, the results suggest that teens who have always regularly smoked cannabis are using more pot.
As marijuana legalization sweeps the nation, some physicians and public health officials are concerned about its potentially harmful effects on young people. However, teen use of marijuana appears to be on a downward trajectory even as it becomes legal in more states. In fact, recent numbers from the National Institute of Drug Abuse show while nearly half of high school seniors had tried marijuana at some point in their life, only 6 percent were daily pot smokers.
Legal Cannabis Doesn’t Lead to Increased Teen Use
Now, new research published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors investigated the impact of medical marijuana legalization in Oregon and found no significant changes in adolescent cannabis use among non-users.
“Results suggest that legalization of recreational marijuana did not increase marijuana use for youth who did not use marijuana but did increase use in youth who were already using.”
The researchers found that legalizing pot did not encourage teens to begin smoking cannabis. In fact, most of the teens involved in the study reported that they didn’t smoke pot at all.
Previous research also backs up the claims that legalizing cannabis does not increase usage in teens. As reported by saludmóvil™, findings published in the journal Prevention Science revealed that adolescent marijuana use has not increased in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Furthermore, the study found the rate of marijuana use among youth has declined since 2002, even with the opening of recreational marijuana shops in 2014.
Past Research Backs Up Findings
These results mirror previous data that point to a downward trend in teen marijuana use across the nation. In fact, according to stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, past-month marijuana use is on a two-decade slide among high school students.
In other states where cannabis is legal, like Colorado, data has shown the rates of marijuana use among teenagers have pretty much been unaffected. In the years since the state’s voters legalized marijuana in 2012, a new survey data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found no increase in cannabis use among teens.
“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don’t use marijuana, even occasionally,” the Colorado health department said in a news release.
The Legalization of Cannabis
A record high 64 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a 2017 CBS News poll, and the growing acceptance of marijuana among Americans has also been reflected in the ballot box.
Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. Now, an estimated 200 million Americans – more than half of the U.S. population – live in states where some form of marijuana is legal. Currently, eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state.
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