Does Legalizing Weed Increase Teenage Usage?

Marijuana Education

If you’ve been following the process of recreational legalization, you’ve probably heard arguments from the opposition such as adult legalization will increase usage amongst teenagers. But contrary to this popular belief, studies have shown that the opposite effect to be true. Fears of increased pot use by minors in legalized states are unfounded. Here’s why.

Colorado Leads the Way

Let’s look to Colorado. As the first state to open retail marijuana shops in 2014, Colorado is often referred to as an industry leader when it comes to legalized pot, and as such, is also a pioneer in all things cannabis culture.

According to Scientific American – “Marijuana consumption by Colorado high school students has dipped slightly since the state first permitted recreational cannabis use by adults.” And in an interesting turn of events, while teenage usage has gone down year-over-year in Colorado, the rate of pot use by teens nationwide is increasing. Laymen’s terms: In Colorado, where it’s legal, teens are smoking less. Nationwide, where pot is illegal, teens are smoking more.

The Washington Post further backs this up, stating “Teen marijuana use fell sharply in Colorado in the years 2014 and 2015, after the opening of that state’s recreational marijuana market, new federal survey data show.” Specifically, Colorado marijuana users aged 12 to 17, went from 20.81 percent in 2013/2014 to 18.35 percent in 2014/2015. If you’re doing the math, this equates to a 12 percent drop in marijuana use amongst Colorado teenagers.

Why the Decrease?

Supporters of recreational marijuana legalization are quick to point to the data to suggest that legalization is lessening teenage use because of capitalistic market changes. By having legalized pot available, the state is increasing the amount of legal pot stores and therefore decreasing the need for a black market. Supporters also argue that it could be a reflection of normalization and drug awareness. Cannabis is now viewed as medically helpful, safe, and regulated. Colorado cannabis tax dollars go towards school programs and facility improvements as well as towards public education and safety awareness. So when you see cannabis taxes go towards good use and are learning more and more about its benefits, it’s easy to lessen the stigma that has plagued marijuana for so long.

While we can’t be sure that it’s any of these one factors, it’s a safe bet that all points at play are valid. The supply is shifting from illegal to legal. The public is educated about marijuana’s benefits. And the taxes are helping communities statewide. If you’re a teenager looking to rebel, maybe marijuana is just too much of a goody-two-shoe for you!

Legalization Does Not Increase Teenage Usage

It’s time to bury this unproven myth once and for all. Studies confirm that within the time of recreational legalization, teenage use of cannabis has decreased. It could be due to the shift in supply, education awareness, and/or normalization. Whatever the main factor, we must turn to the studies and face the facts — in the years that recreational pot has been legalized, teenage usage decreased. Read into that what you will.