Teen marijuana use lower than pre-legalization in U.S. states: survey

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The results of a federally funded U.S. survey released this week suggests teens are using less marijuana today than they were in 2012, when U.S. states began legalizing recreational cannabis for adult use.

“Teens’ perceived availability of marijuana also declined, with fewer eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders reporting it is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain than in 2012,” the report found. 

“Once again, federal survey data has debunked the myth that rolling back marijuana prohibition will result in increased rates of use among teens,” said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, of the results.

“In fact, marijuana appears to be less popular among middle and high school students today than it was in 2012, when the first states legalized it for adult use. This is just the latest of several government surveys that have found virtually no change in rates of teen marijuana use following state-level marijuana policy reforms,” Tvert continued.

According to Tvert, it’s “quite clear that our country does not need to arrest hundreds of thousands of adult marijuana consumers in order to prevent teens from using marijuana. The key to keeping teens from using marijuana is education and honesty, and there has been more of that surrounding marijuana in the past five years than in the preceding five decades.”

The annual Monitoring the Future survey was commissioned by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

In 2018, it found 5.6 percent of eighth-graders, 16.7 percent of 10th-graders, and 22.2 percent of 12th-graders reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, compared to 6.5 percent, 17 percent, and 22.9 percent in 2012, respectively.

Rates of daily, annual, and lifetime use were also slightly lower in 2018 compared to 2012 among all three grades, according to the report. 

Beginning with Colorado and Washington in November 2012, 10 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Nine of those states have also authorized systems of regulating marijuana cultivation and sales for adult use.

The Marijuana Policy Project says it is the U.S.’s largest marijuana policy organization, founded in 1995. For more information, visit MPP.org.

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