A new study in a journal published by the American Medical Association finds that use of cannabis among young people decreased in U.S. states that legalized it.
The researchers found no evidence that medical marijuana legalization encouraged use by young people. Surprisingly, they found "that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes."
The report contradicts one of the rallying cries of prohibitionists, and suggest that when access to safe and legal marijuana is provided, there is an association with a *decline* in youth cannabis consumption.
The authors said the findings are "consistent with…the argument that it is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age."
The research, which analyzed federal data on marijuana use trends among 1.4 million high school students from 1993 to 2017, showed that self-reported past-month youth cannabis use declined by an average of eight percent in states that legalized recreational marijuana.
There was also a nine percent drop in reports of using marijuana 10 or more times over the past 30 days in those states, the study found. However, there was no statistically significant change in consumption rates in states that legalized medical cannabis alone.
The results run counter to long-standing fears expressed by opponents of legalization, who have consistently argued that legalizing and regulating cannabis sales would lead more young people to seek out marijuana. Earlier studies have been mixed—with some showing legalization has no impact on youth consumption and others revealing a decline in teen use.
"Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth," the new study, published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, concluded. "Moreover, [the analysis] showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes."
Youth Marijuana Use Declined In States That Legalized, Study Finds [Marijuana Moment]