How New Marijuana Legalizations Affect Teen Drug Use


Recently new laws legalizing recreational marijuana use in Nevada, California and Massachusetts were put into action. Altogether 28 states and D.C. have some sort of legalized marijuana laws on the books. Only a small amount of the states have legalized for recreational use, most of them have only decriminalized possession of small amounts or growing a few cannabis plants. So the question now has to be asked, is it easier for teenagers to get marijuana and will the numbers of teens smoking marijuana rise?

Marijuana Trends over 25 Years Show Little Change

It’s easy these days to for both teens and parents to think that all teenagers smoke marijuana, that’s how media portrays them. However, according to the CDC, 38.6% of students reported ever smoking marijuana, this includes those who have only tried it once. A rise in use was shown from 1991-1997 (31.3%-47.1%) and then between 1997-2015 use went down to 38.6%, that’s almost 10%.

Teen Marijuana Use Since Medical Legalization

The first marijuana laws to be taken into action were those regarding usage for medical treatment. In 2013, The Journal of Adolescent Health published a study on whether or not legalization was affecting teens use, they found that there was only about a 4% rise in used between the time before and after marijuana was legalized for medical use.

The new legalization laws don’t provide “easy access” as some may assume. Of course there is a small rise, but for the most part, the same teens will continue to use or avoid marijuana no matter how easy or difficult it is to find. It is possible that there will be a rise in the future but based on current data there is no indication of that happening, marijuana use has decreased in recent years, if anything.

Worried your teen is using drugs? We provide accurate and confidential drug testing, contact Test Smartly Labs in the KC metro area today. 

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