Adversaries to the cannabis legalization movement have always cited statistics on teen drug use and concern for the nation’s teens as reasons for keeping cannabis illegal. Anti drug advocates have always warned that legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis in any manner would cause teen marijuana usage to skyrocket. New study results show that this is not the case.
Public opinions toward cannabis in the U.S. have changed and 25 states have now decriminalized cannabis for either medical or recreational use. The same people have been saying that more relaxed attitudes toward cannabis would be detrimental to children, specifically that legalization would make it easier for them to obtain cannabis. Results of the study show that the number of teens who experienced issues related to marijuana use fell by 24% between 2002 and 2013.
The study, conducted by Richard Grucza at Washington State University School of Medicine in St. Louis, used data gathered by the NationaL Survey on Drug Use and Health. Gruzca specifically looked at adolescent usage during the period when different states began relaxing their cannabis laws.
His results found that rates began to fall, “during a period when 10 U.S. states relaxed criminal sanctions against adult marijuana use and 13 states enacted medical marijuana policies.” the results also showed that “During this period, teenagers also became less likely to perceive marijuana use as risky, and marijuana use became more socially acceptable among young adults.”
Gruzca’s results do not suggest that the decline in teen use is directly correlated with laws decriminalizing cannabis, meaning marijuana legalization will cause less teens to use cannabis. It is fairly safe to say that teens aren’t more likely to use marijuana if it is legal.
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This study is a major victory for cannabis reformers as it defeats one of the main talking points of opponents of cannabis legalization. There are many factors of teen drug use, such as home environment and mental health. Now that we can rule out cannabis legalization as a cause, we can as country get to the root of the problem. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!