Although prohibitionists often claim that marijuana legalization will lead to an increase in youthful consumption, the latest federal statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveal that despite over half the United States having legalized the leaf for medicinal and recreational purposes fewer teenagers are getting stoned.
As it was first reported this week by the Washington Post, marijuana use among teens between the ages of 12 and 17-years old is down all across the nation, but so is their use of alcohol and cigarettes.
This is a significant development for the cannabis advocacy community to put in its arsenal, especially with the marijuana reform debate currently gyrating inside a pinnacle of popularity. No longer should the “what about the children” defense be considered viable against legalization.
The SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health is considered one of the most detailed polls on the state of substance abuse across the great American landscape – pulling a sample of 67,500 citizens over the age of 12 to derive at the results. The tale of the tape in this year’s survey suggests that the up-and-coming generations are not as interested in getting high as, perhaps, teenagers were in the past.
These statistics are rather consistent with other reports suggesting that the days of kids getting high before and after school may be on a steady decline. In fact, a recent report from the Crimson indicates that 76 percent of this year’s freshmen class at Harvard have never even experimented with marijuana. However, the majority of them still support legalization.
But marijuana consumption among adults appears to be on the rise. Last month a Gallup poll found that nearly 33 million American citizens currently admit to being regular marijuana users – a figure representing 13 percent of the U.S. population -- up from 7 percent in 2013.
Another study published earlier this month, this one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found more middle-aged Americans are smoking more than their kids. The data shows a 10 percent decline in marijuana uses among 12 to 17-year-olds since 2002, while the older demographics showed increased rates of consumption between 50 and 455 percent.
Overall, the latest SAMHSA survey is bad news for those prohibitionists who argue legalization sends the wrong message to the youth of tomorrow. If anything, legalization matched with positive public option with respect to the issue has made marijuana less appealing to kids.