When the legalization movement began, many opponents denounced the idea based on the assumption that it would increase the use for middle and high-school aged teenagers While many believed this idea to be true, a new federal report is proving quite the opposite. Along with these new results, many other studies, coming from organizations like the Drug Enforcement Administration, are also showing a steady decline in cannabis-related abuse.
Falling numbers amongst teenagers
It’s common for teenagers to experiment with alcohol or cannabis, many of us remember taking our first hits in the back of someone’s mom’s car.
However, new research released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is showing a decrease in the amount of teenagers who are actually using cannabis.
Despite what opponents to legalization previously thought, the legalized, regulated cannabis market has helped to combat teenage use through a variety of different ways.
According to the new research, teenage cannabis use is at the lowest rate we’ve seen since 1993. In 2015, 11.8% of eighth graders across the United States reported using cannabis. This number has dropped by 2.4% to 9.4% in just one year. This is the lowest rate recorded since the surveying of teens in 1993.
With more than half the country adopting some kind of legal cannabis policy, it is proof these policies are taking effect. The percentage of eighth to tenth graders reporting it is “easy” or “very easy” to find cannabis also dropped significantly this year.
When it comes to questioning the higher grades about their usage, tenth through twelfth grade, the percentage stayed about the same as last year. Twelfth graders also reported that it was easier to obtain cannabis than in previous years.
This is likely due to the fact that many students in this grade are 18 and can legally purchase cannabis from dispensaries or obtain a medical cannabis card.
No surprise, really
The rates of teenagers using weed aren’t the only numbers falling. According to an annual report released by the DEA, there is also a steady decline in illegal trafficking and cannabis-related prosecutions.
This report also confirmed the lowered rate of teenage consumption. Tom Angell, founder of the Marijuana Majority advocacy group, says the results are common sense.
Under legalization, businesses have every incentive to follow the rules and make sure their customers are of legal age lest they lose their lucrative licenses.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, agrees and thinks expanding the legal cannabis market will only help to decrease these numbers.
When markets are regulated, there are more law-abiding citizens willing to ensure the laws are being followed.
The best way to prevent teen marijuana use is education and regulation, not arresting responsible adult consumers and depriving sick people of medical marijuana. It is time to adopt marijuana policies that are based on evidence instead of fear.
Through further research and testing, it’s likely the entire country will soon be developing legal cannabis policies. While the federal government still lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, more high-ranking offices are beginning to see the proof that cannabis is, in fact, not a dangerous substance.
If the research continues to trend the way it has been, it gives hope to someday soon having removed from the Schedule 1 list.