Gov’t Data Finds Teens May Not Be Affected By Legalized Marijuana

Teens Not Affected By Legal Weed

Newly-released data from the federal government finds that the legalization of marijuana may have less of an impact on teens than previously thought.

The state-level data was released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and was gathered found through a year-long series of monthly surveys. According to the surveys’ findings, while increases in recreational marijuana use were registered in Colorado and Washington –states that have flouted federal law through statewide marijuana legalizations– those increases were not deemed to be statistically significant.

The findings in the data were interpreted differently by those on different sides of the aisle, as well as by experts.

“This data, combined with other federally funded research released this week, shows that what our opponents say about legalization leading to skyrocketing youth marijuana use just isn’t true,” said Tom Angell, of the pro-legalization organization Marijuana Majority, via email.

This view was not shared by opponents of marijuana legalization, who pointed out that, according to the data, Colorado is now the leading state in terms of marijuana use among adolescents.

“Now that Colorado has legalized and widely commercialized marijuana, their children use marijuana regularly more than children in any other state,” said Kevin Sabet of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Outside of the political sphere, however, several experts have deemed the findings to be something of a wash.

“Most of the legal changes have pertained only to those 21 and over, so the absence of a big increase in teens is exactly what you’d expect,” said Carnegie Mellon University professor Jonathan Caulkins. “So it seems to me that the non-response of teens to the non-legalization for teens really tells us very little about the effects of legalization.”

One reason for the relative lack of change in many state results, according to Caulkins, is that marijuana availability among young people has been widespread for over a generation.

“The availability reported in [the Monitoring the Future Survey] was already very high 20 years ago, so the liberalization couldn’t do much more to increase availability. And it has not changed legal risk or consequences for teens.”

Written by John Winston, Media Director for Source Washington Post

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