Debunking the Myth: Legal Weed Does Not Increase Teen Marijuana Consumption
While it is understandable that people would want to protect children from marijuana consumption while their young brains are still developing, the prohibitionist line that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized in order to ‘save the children’ isn’t justifiable. It’s a scare-tactic of politicians and the police-state who want us to think that every ten year old is going to be toking up behind the bleachers if we legalize marijuana in our state, but the facts say otherwise. The latest Youth Risk Behavior Study actually shows that states where marijuana is legalized, there is a lower incidence or a statistically insignificant change in marijuana use among adolescents.
If we compare teen users of marijuana in 2011 compared to 2013, the percent of high school students using marijuana was 23.1 percent and 23.4 percent, respectively. This means that since Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, there has been virtually no spike in teen marijuana use whatsoever.
The numbers are similar when comparing teens who had ever tried marijuana. In 2011, (pre-legalization) the number was 39.9 percent, and after legalization it is only 40.7 percent – again a statistically insignificant change.
Other states where marijuana is available for both medical and recreational purposes actually experienced a decline in teen marijuana use – such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Boston.
“This debunks the theory that openly discussing the benefits of legalizing marijuana for adults will result in more teen use,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The public dialogue surrounding marijuana is more balanced and honest than ever before. We should be encouraging teens to take part in it, not shielding them from it.”
Furthermore, teen cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption are down considerably from the 1990s. The adolescents of today seem much more concerned about their overall health than the youth of yesterday. They are even wary of using synthetic marijuana. Perhaps prohibitionist politicians should give our youth more credit.
In more than 20 states, medical marijuana is legal in some form. Not all of them have programs up and running, but the legislation is there. While not all states or individuals support marijuana legalization, one recent poll from the Huffington Post and YouGov indicates that 70% of Americans favor medical marijuana and only 17% oppose it. This tells us that marijuana legalization is on it’s way…everywhere. So we should do the best we can to, well, make the best of everything that comes with legalization.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.