When marijuana is legalized, it becomes easier to buy it and more people begin using it, right? Maybe not, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that suggests teens in high school are continually using marijuana less frequently even as states are making it legal to buy from vendors.
It’s not just marijuana either – the data suggests use of all monitored substances, including alcohol, prescription drugs, and tobacco, has declined linearly amongst this age group.
The data comes from the new CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which tracks an array of behaviors linked with poor health in students in grades 9 through 12.
The results this time around are particularly interesting because from 2009-2013, teen cannabis use was trending upwards, but then began decreasing from there. In 2012 the first marijuana recreational legalization laws were introduced and dispensaries opened in 2014, suggesting legalization may have actually reduced teen use.
On average, 15.8 percent of high school students reported using cannabis at some point in the last 30 days in 2021, with significantly more females using it than males (17.8 percent compared to 13.6 percent, respectively). Compared to the record high of 23.4 percent in 2013, teen use is now sharply down.
The results suggest that one of the main talking points against legalization – that it will enable more vulnerable people to get involved with drugs – may actually be the direct opposite of reality, and that reducing restrictions could drive down prevalence. It is also possible that the pandemic lockdowns played a role in reducing it, but causes are only speculative at this point.
[H/T: Marijuana Moment]