According to an annual report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of US teenagers who say they use marijuana continued its downward trend in 2018.
A 2018 survey by SAMHSA found that self-reported cannabis use by teenagers remained about the same as the prior year, continuing an overall downward trend this century. Based on feedback from US respondents aged 12 to 17, the report found that 12.5% of teens said they had used marijuana in the past year, as opposed to 12.4% in 2017.
Since 2002, the percentage of teenagers who reported past-year marijuana use has fallen from 15.8%, according to SAMHSA, during which time dozens of states have created or updated legal cannabis laws.
In a statement, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano commented that the findings should provide further evidence that regulation, not criminalization, is the best approach for keeping young people away from cannabis until they’re old enough to handle the risks.
“A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults but restricts its use among young people – coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms – best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse,” Armentano wrote.
“By contrast, advocating for the marijuana’s continued criminalization only compounds them,” he said. Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington first legalized adult-use and/or ‘recreational’ cannabis, past-year teen use has fallen by roughly 8%, NORML noted.
Opponents to cannabis legalization have frequently cited concerns about the potential impacts on young people, including the increased availability of various, potentially stronger products.
In the past few years, and in recent months, a majority of studies have shown that youth usage rates actually tend to decline when the plant and its products are decriminalized.
Most recently, for example, a collaborative study of data collected through federal and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys found that medical marijuana laws had no effect on teen use, while states with adult-use laws saw an 8% decrease in likelihood of marijuana use and a 9% decrease in the likelihood that teens would be frequent users.
Published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in July, the study was based on responses from over 1.4 million youths living in 27 states and the District of Columbia, gathered between 1993 and 2017.
“There is simply no evidence that legalization — for medical or recreational purposes — leads to an increase in teen use,” commented lead researcher Mark Anderson, an associate professor of agricultural economics and economics at Montana State University, in a press release. “Opponents of these laws generally state this as a primary concern, but there is just no evidence that teen consumption goes up.”
Curated by Arizona Cannabis News. Original Source, Federal Report Finds Teen Cannabis Use Is Still Down