Study: Cannabis Legalization didn’t increase Teen Use

Written by Lydia Kariuki

A study that was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that legalization of adult-use cannabis didn’t increase cannabis use among teens.  This finding has thrown a spanner in the works since most opponents of legalization have often cited the possibility of increased teen use as the major concern with legalizing recreational cannabis. Currently, 21 states and Washington DC have legalized cannabis. The state of Missouri and Maryland legalized adult-use cannabis just a few weeks ago.

The study, which was titled “Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Adolescent Cannabis Use Across 3 Studies”, was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine earlier this month. The researchers analyzed data from three longitudinal studies on incidence and frequency of adolescent cannabis use from 1999 to 2020. Three recreational states were included in the study; New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, Oregon in 2014, and New York in 2021. Recreational dispensaries are however yet to open in NY. This study has demonstrated that teens in legal states are not more likely to experiment with cannabis compared to teens living in states where cannabis is illegal.

Speaking to Marijuana Moment, the author of the study Jennifer Bailey stated that the pattern observed in this, and other similar studies so far, has been encouraging. She however advised caution from being overly optimistic about this trend. “Although things look encouraging now, as we note in our paper, alcohol use increased slowly over 40 years after the end of alcohol prohibition,” Bailey explained.

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Lydia Kariuki

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