Many opponents of cannabis legalization often argue that teens will use the substance once it is legalized. However, a recent study done in Washington State has found that such fears are unfounded.
The researchers carefully analyzed the data collected during the Washington Healthy Youth Surveys conducted in 2010-2012 and the data gathered during the 2014-2016 survey. The data clearly shows that the number of teens who reported that they use cannabis had declined.
Recreational marijuana was legalized in the state in 2012, so the researchers had a keen interest in comparing consumption rates before and after legalization.
The study found that marijuana use among eighth-graders dropped by nearly 3 percent from approximately 10 percent in the years just before legalization to approximately 7 percent in the data captured following legalization.
There was a drop of 2 percent among 10th graders since the rate stood at 20 percent in the data captured in the 2010-2012 surveys while the rate was 18 percent when those teens were surveyed in 2014-2016. There was no change in the percentage of 12th graders who consume cannabis.
However, the researchers were quick to point out that their findings do not in any way suggest that the drop in cannabis use among teens is entirely the result of legalization. They also added that their findings may not be an accurate indicator of what trend marijuana consumption among teens will take in the long-term.
The researchers suggested that more research needs to be done about the how the availability of cannabis in given neighborhoods affects the marijuana-use patterns of teens. Such research is necessary since what happens in the state capital may have little influence on what happens in particular neighborhoods.
The impact of advertising, packaging and the proximity of retail outlets should also be investigated to reveal how those factors influence the drug-use behavior of minors.
In the meantime, another study that was published shortly before the one on teenage cannabis use shows that the number of cannabis users in Washington State is almost twice what it was thought to be. This study makes the findings showing a lower prevalence of marijuana use among teens even more significant since it becomes clearer that legalization didn’t trigger a spike in the number of teens who can access and consume cannabis.
Cannabis industry participants like Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) are glad that verifiable scientific studies are disproving those who want to discredit cannabis at every opportunity.
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