Washington: Most Teens Not Using More Marijuana Following Legalization

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Above Photo: From Norml.org

While this may seem hard to understand, it is actually predictable. When advocated for legal adult use of marijuana, I argued, based on the experience in the Netherlands, that this would like lead to less adolescent marijuana use. Illegality made marijuana a way for youth to rebel, while legality made marijuana boring. And, with an avenue for legal sales, marijuana sellers were regulated and did not need to break the law and sell to youth. They had enough customers who were adults.There is good reason for youth not to abuse an brain impacting intoxicants in their teen years when their brains are developing. People who wait until they are adults are likely to have a healthier relationship with intoxicants. KZ

Spokane, WA: The enactment of adult use marijuana sales in Washington state is not associated with upticks in self-reported marijuana use by most teens, according to data published in The Journal of Adolescent Health.

A team of investigators from Washington State University, the University of Massachusetts, and the Colorado School of Public Health assessed trends in teen marijuana use and employment in the years immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of retail marijuana sales (2010 to 2016).

They reported that “marijuana use decreased significantly among working and non-working 8th and 10th graders.” Marijuana use similarly declined among 12th graders who were not employed. Among 12th graders who were employed more than eleven hours per week, self-reported cannabis use increased over the study period. The study’s authors acknowledged that this latter finding was not unexpected because “the workplace may expose adolescents to peer or adult coworkers’ potentially unhealthy behaviors, including substance use.” Authors further acknowledged that working youth were also more likely to have reported using cannabis prior to the passage of legalization.

Numerous prior studies have reported that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with increased marijuana use or access by young people.