A federal survey released data in September whows teen pot use is at lowest in 22 years. This is a stark contrast of opponents claiming that cannabis legalization would lead to a rise of teens smoking weed. Not only has there been no increase in teen use, but research reveals pot use with teens is actually decreasing.
Despite Legalization…Teen Pot Use at Lowest Since 1994
In 2016, use of cannabis by 12-17-year-olds had dropped. Survey data shows that 6.5 percent of adolescents in this age range used pot monthly. This is a significant drop since even 2002, when 8.2 percent of teens reported to using pot in the past month. The last time use was this low was 1994.
It seems that the legalization of cannabis hasn’t “sent the wrong message” to teens. This is a stark opposition to what opponents projected. This has been proven several times, despite 29 states supporting medical marijuana and 8 states who permit recreational use.
For years, opponents of the legalization of cannabis have pushed the idea that legalization will only increase teen use. And while there is a general consensus that teen pot use should be discouraged (as it is likely to lead to addiction and mental and physical problems later in life), there is virtually no evidence that shows legalization has encouraged more teens to smoke weed.
Research Shows Teen Pot Use is the Opposite of What Was Projected
This theory that legal weed will increase teen pot use led to the research conducted by Dr. Deborah Hasin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Hasin and her colleagues took 24 years of data from over one million adolescents in the 48 adjoining states of the US. While teen pot use was higher in the states where marijuana is legal for medical use, legalization hadn’t led to an increase in numbers.
According to Hasin, “Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana. Rather, up to now, in the states that passed medical marijuana laws, adolescent marijuana use was already higher than in other states.”
But how do Colorado teens compare? Many have turned an eye to Colorado and teen pot use among residents of the state in the forefront of marijuana legalization. Where it was generally assumed Colorado would become a hub for teen pot use, the opposite has led to be true. Teen pot use in the state fell dramatically in 2014-2015 after it was legalized for recreational use. A national survey showed that in 2013-2014, 20.81 percent of Coloradans aged 12-17 used cannabis. In 2014-2015, these numbers dropped again…to just 18.35 percent.
Teen Pot Use Down as Adults Consume More Cannabis than (almost) Ever
On the contrary, adult use of cannabis is on the rise. In 2016, monthly pot use by people aged 18-25 was up to 20.8 percent. This a number that hasn’t been seen since 1985. Those aged 26-34 are also smoking more pot than were in the past. 14.5 percent of this age-range reporting to smoking cannabis each month.
Up with adults and down with teens seems to be the new trend regarding pot use across the nation. Despite the fact of its legal availability. Much like data showing a decrease in teen pot use, there’s also been a significant drop in the percentage of teens who believe that smoking pot is a risk.
And while it’s traditionally been thought this would lead to increased teen use, the numbers don’t add up. Legalization hasn’t increased use of cannabis with teens. Instead teen use of pot seems to have significantly slowed down.