One crucial concern about legalizing cannabis is the fear that it would open up the floodgates when it came to usage especially among teens, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, a recent Business Insider article published a survey that claims just the opposite. A new study conducted by the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey revealed that cannabis use amongst those in eighth, 10th and 12th grade has remained virtually unchanged within the past decade.
The study, which took place throughout 2016, observed the habits of more than 230,000 students whose cannabis usage remained steady during that time. When questioned about their use of cannabis from the past 30 days, six percent of eighth graders, 17 percent of 10th graders and 26 percent of 12th graders confirmed that they had used cannabis within those 30 days.
Recreational use of cannabis became legal in the state of Washington in 2012 with previous surveys producing comparable data. Further studies have been conducted in other states including Oregon and Colorado using similar age groups. Findings of these studies showed that following the legalization of cannabis in each of these states, not only did the number of students who have tried or have used cannabis stayed the same, in some cases the numbers actually saw a slight decrease in usage.
Another study published in The Denver Post last December mirrored these results. After looking at a national survey, JAMA Pediatrics concluded that, “the percent of teens from Colorado who said they used marijuana in the past month was statistically unchanged between the pre-legalization years of 2010 to 2012 and the post-legalization years of 2013 to 2015.”
These results are important for a very fundamental reason. One of the chief arguments against legalization of cannabis is the research that supports the theory that cannabis usage in adolescents has been linked to negative cognitive effects on brain development and function as well as possible dependency later in life. While this research does raise questions about cannabis use and teens, legalization does not seem to play a part in the increase of said usage.
There have also been other speculations on the legitimacy of these studies since states that have legalized cannabis in recent years have been conditioned to hold a more liberal and progressive view on the use on cannabis both medically and recreationally.
Either way, concerns of legalizing cannabis over fear of an epidemic or surge amongst our children have proven to be false.