Although many prohibitionists argue that they oppose legalizing cannabis “because of the kids”, in truth they want legalization to increase youth usage rates. That would validate the argument they’ve been using for years, that if you loosen cannabis laws, more kids will start to consume the plant. However, a study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry – and recent data released by the Center for Disease Control – has found that prohibitionists are dead wrong; legalization does not increase the cannabis usage rates of non-adults.
For the study, researchers assessed the relationship between laws legalizing medical cannabis and rates of self-reported cannabis use among adolescents; the study covered a 24-year period with a sample size of over 1 million youths from 48 states.
“The results of this study showed no evidence for an increase in adolescent marijuana use after the passage of state laws permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes,” according to researchers. “Concerns that increased marijuana use are an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded.”
But this downward trend isn’t isolated only to states that have legalized medical cannabis use, says Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML.
“According to a June 2016 analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of all high school students who have ever used cannabis fell from an estimated 43 percent in 1995 (one year prior to the passage of the nation’s first medical pot law) to 39 percent in 2015″, says Armentano. “The percentage of teens currently using pot (defined as at least once in the past 30 days) also declined during this same period, from 25 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2015.”
Armentano also notes that “the nationwide trend of declining teen marijuana use remains consistent in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis in 2012. The 2015 Colorado Health Kids Survey, released earlier this year, points out that teens pot use has declined since 2009 and that this trend has been uninterrupted by legalization. Data from Washington State tells a similar story. An analysis of state survey results from the years 2002 to 2014 by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy found no uptick in teens’ marijuana use during the decade.”
The full Lancet Psychiatry study can be found by clicking here.