Although marijuana’s opposing forces are always quick to spew propaganda about legalization leading to an increase in use among teens, the latest federal data reveals these claims to be untrue.
A new Monitoring the Future study, which is an annual product of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), shows that students attending eighth, tenth and twelfth grade all across the United States are not consuming any more marijuana now than they have in the past twenty years.
Interestingly, the federal government anticipated that as more states moved to legalize the leaf, not to mention the more relaxed attitudes that the population seems to have regarding the safety of the substance, there would be more teenagers out there getting high.
U.S. Health officials say that while there has been an increase in adult use (18-24), adolescent use has remained mostly stagnant.
“I don’t have an explanation,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told U.S. News. “This is somewhat surprising. We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up.”
Obviously, marijuana advocates are pleased with the outcome of the latest report, especially since state and federal lawmakers often lean on federal heath data when formulating arguments against the legalization of marijuana.
“Every time a state considers rolling back marijuana prohibition, opponents predict it will result in more teen use. Yet the data seems to tell a very different story,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, told MERRY JANE in a statement. “There has been a sea of change in state marijuana laws over the past six years and teen usage rates have remained stable and even gone down in some cases.
“The best way to prevent teen marijuana use is education and regulation,” Tvert continued, “not arresting responsible adult consumers and depriving sick people of medical marijuana. It is time to adopt marijuana policies that are based on evidence instead of fear.”
Other reformers believe the report solidifies the point that establishing a taxed and regulated market is the best manner for which to chisel away at the black market.
“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 the Marijuana Majority, told MERRY JANE. “The new data bears this out, and it’s just common sense. Under legalization, businesses have every incentive to follow the rules and make sure their customers are of legal age lest they lose their lucrative licenses. Conversely, black market dealers don’t care about the IDs in their customers' wallets; they only care about the money in there."