Teenagers. According to the latest research, cannabis use has been reduced by around 10% in those states in which recreational marijuana is legal
Indeed, the most recent studies point to the fact that cannabis use among adolescents has been reduced by almost 10% in those states in which recreational marijuana has been legalized while the figures have not changed in those states where only Medical marijuana has been legalized.
Probably, the reason is that it is much more difficult for a teenager to buy cannabis in a legal dispensary than on the black market. Although it is true that in some states, such as California, the black market has not decreased due to the high prices of dispensaries, in most states with legal recreational marijuana it is more difficult to access cannabis if you are not over 21 years since dispensaries do not sell to adolescents and the black market has decreased considerably since legalization.
To this conclusion has come the study led by Mark Anderson, professor of economics and health at Montana State University. The researchers were based on national surveys of health and behavior of adolescents in the period between 1993 and 2017. For the conduct of the study, the responses of 1.4 million high school students were analyzed.
In 10 states, recreational marijuana for people over 21 is legal and starting January 1, 2020, Illinois will become the 11th state that will allow the legal purchase and sale of cannabis. The researchers analyzed behavioral changes throughout the country and not in each state.
For this reason, the research has detractors because to obtain incontestable data one should analyze state by state and, above all, make a deeper study in the states where marijuana is legal, comparing the impact between adolescents before and after the legalization.
There are no changes related to the legislation on medical marijuana, but the probabilities of adolescent use decreased to almost 10% after the enactment of recreational marijuana laws.
Previous studies have found no difference in the use of cannabis by adolescents in the states with legalized medical marijuana but in the states that allow recreational marijuana. And it seems that the findings are important as they point to a marked decline in adolescent use after recreational marijuana sales began in 2014 in Washington state.
Mark Anderson insists that the results should change the opinion of those who believed that the use of marijuana among teenagers would increase after legalization. But Anderson’s words do not change many people’s opinion against legalization.
Precisely in this line of opinion is Linda Richter, director of research and policy analysis of the Center for Addiction, who said it is a major challenge to the logic to say that the most liberal recreational marijuana laws will discourage young people from using the drug.
Linda Richter goes further when she states that in states where marijuana use is legal, there are fewer adolescents who believe that consumption is dangerous or harmful. And that, in any case, teenagers in those states still have access to marijuana.
On the other hand, Richter insists that the black market of marijuana continues to operate in the states that have legalized recreational use.
According to a study conducted in 2017, about 20% of high school students in the United States used marijuana. The number ranged from 13% of 9th grade students to 26% of seniors in high school, according to data from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.
However, the new studies for the year 2019 suggest that high school students are ten percent less likely to use cannabis in states where it has been legalized. And, despite the concern that marijuana use causes among adolescents, the fact is that legalization has decreased the use among students.
In effect, the researchers say that there has been an eight percent decrease in the number of high school students who said they had used marijuana in the past 30 days, and a decrease of nine percent among students who said they had used marijuana. least 10 times in the last 30 days. The research was published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.
No change was found in the use by adolescents after the legalization of medical marijuana. But the evidence of a possible reduction in use after legalization for recreational purposes was demonstrated.
Mr. Anderson said more research would have to be done as more states legalize recreational marijuana. Because the reality is that many recreational cannabis laws are too recent. In a few years more data will be available.
Mark Anderson team members examined the answers given by students before and after the implementation of marijuana laws.
On the other hand, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., said the Anderson study contradicts other studies that found that marijuana use had not changed.
In the same vein as Bonnie Halpern-Felsher expresses the criminal justice research and statistics office of the Colorado Division. According to this office, the proportion of high school students in the state of Colorado who said they had used marijuana in their lives or in the last 30 days did not change in statistical terms from 2005 to 2017.
An important question is whether the teenagers are getting the message about the fact that consuming marijuana during adolescence is more damaging due to their brain development.
Bonnie Halpern-Felsher expresses concern when she says that given legalization, we need more education about the use of marijuana among young people since we do not really have much training.
Since the early 1990s, cannabis use increased from 0.6 percent in 1991 to 6.3 percent in 2017, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
However, it is also true that tobacco consumption among young people has decreased considerably during the same period of time. And, of course, tobacco is much more harmful to health than cannabis.