Legalizing Marijuana Tied to Decline in Recreational Use Among Teens

Nearly 10 percent of kids who smoked regularly reported that they stoped after pot became legal

Marijuana legalization
Legalizing marijuana has been associated with less use among teens. (Getty)
By Ariel Scotti / July 9, 2019 10:00 am

Although use of marijuana is up nationwide, a new study has discovered that fewer teenagers are using the drug in states where it has become legalized, CNN reported.

The report, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, saw that a drop in recreational pot use of about 8 percent among high school kids who smoked in the past 30 days was associated with the passing of legalization bills. It noticed a 9 percent decline among kids who said they smoked at least 10 times in the last 30 days.

“Just to be clear we found no effect on teen use following legalization for medical purposes, but evidence of a possible reduction in use following legalization for recreational purposes,” the paper’s first author, Mark Anderson, told CNN. “Because our study is based on more policy variation than prior work, we view our estimates as the most credible to date in the literature.”

Researchers looked at data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which polled about 1.4 million American high school students between 1993 and 2017 to find numbers on self-reported marijuana use, according to CNN. Specifically, they took a look at what kids had to say about how much, if any, weed they used both before and after it became legal and found the dip in reported use.

One of the study’s assumptions behind this decrease is that, in states where marijuana has become legal, drug dealers have been replaced by “licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.”

But the study’s authors admitted that the relationship they discovered between legalization and a drop in use is only an association right now and that greater research over a longer period of time is needed to determine if it’s a true cause and effect.

“Because many recreational marijuana laws have been passed so recently, we do observe limited post-treatment data for some of these states,” Anderson told CNN. “In a few years, it would make sense to update our estimates as more data become available.”

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