Teen Marijuana Use Flat Despite Broader Legalization
June 17th, 2014
Policy, Top News
The argument that legalizing marijuana would increase usage among teens may be losing some steam after a recent survey showed that marijuana use remained virtually unchanged between 2011 and 2013. The biennial High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey from the U.S. CDC found that marijuana use increased just 0.3% over the two-year period, reports the Huffington Post.
Over the same period of time, five U.S. states legalized medical marijuana for medical use, bringing the total to 22 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado and Washington also became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana, which was presumably more relevant to the statistics than medical marijuana given that medical marijuana is rarely prescribed for teen users.
The CDC’s data correlates with a separate report published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which compared 20 years of data about high school teen marijuana habits in legal versus non-legal states. The study found that legalization of medical marijuana did not result in greater illicit use of the substance by high school students, confirming that the CDC’s data is likely accurate.
Separate CDC data from Colorado between 2009 and 2011 also showed a marked 3% decrease in marijuana consumption among high school students. During that period, the state saw a significant growth in the number of dispensaries following the legalization of medical marijuana statewide. Again, these trends confirm the two aforementioned reports suggesting that legalization doesn’t influence teen usage.
Ultimately, the CDC’s breakdown of high school consumption between 2013 and 2014 in states like Colorado could prove definitive for those supporting legalization. Those opposed to legalization still argue that the legalization of recreational marijuana negative influences teens, despite the lack of supporting evidence, since there is still a lack of definitive opposing evidence to date.
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