Despite the claims of legalization opponents, teen weed use drops to a 20-year low while adult use continues to rise. Teen use has been declining since 2012, the same year recreational cannabis was legalized in both Colorado and Washington. According to the survey, the percentage of teens consuming weed hasn’t been this low since 1994.
Teen Weed Use Drops To 20-Year Low
Teen cannabis use has been dropping consistently over the past five years. The latest numbers are no different, according to the recently released data contained in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In 2016, 6.5 percent of adolescents between 12 and 17 were currently using cannabis. That’s lower than most years from 2009 to 2014 and similar to 2015’s percentage.
Similar studies in Washington found that teen use had dropped since cannabis was legalized in 2012. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy concluded that the legalization bill ended up stabilizing the rate of teenage weed use.
More data from the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey found teens aren’t smoking more weed after legalization. According to the survey, middle school use was on the decline while high school use remained the same.
“We’ve always argued that taking marijuana out of the unregulated criminal market and putting sales into the hands of responsible retailers would actually make it harder for young people to get,” Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said about the Monitoring the Future survey.
Adult Use Rises
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that with more than half of the nations state’s having some form of legalized cannabis, adults are using more weed. According to the NSDUH, “the percentage of people aged 12 or older who were current marijuana users in 2016 was higher than the percentage from 2002 to 2015.”
The increase is mostly coming from adults aged 26 or older using cannabis, not teenagers. Adults 26 or older was the demographic with the largest number of people using cannabis. The group of people between 18 and 25 had the highest percentage of cannabis users.
That number is unlikely to drop in the near future. According to the same survey, marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug by far. Misuse of prescription painkillers was the next most used illicit substance. However, 20 million more people use marijuana than prescription painkillers.
Final Hit: Teen Weed Use Drops To 20-Year Low
So from what this study reveals, it looks like legalization is doing the opposite of what opponents said it would. With more retailers selling recreational cannabis, there is less incentive for street dealers to continue selling. Dispensaries are under enough scrutiny as it is. They have no incentive to sell to underage customers and risk losing their valuable licenses.