Study Finds That Teen Usage of Marijuana Drops in Legalized States

by  Eve Schlegel ‘20 

According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey, more than one in five high school seniors reported use of an illegal drug in the past month, with marijuana as the top choice. However, a new study conducted by Youth Risk Behavior Surveys found that marijuana use among teens has dropped in states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. The data was taken from 27 states, including Washington D.C., where medical marijuana is legal. It also used statistics from seven states that legalized marijuana for recreational use. 

It is suggested that this is not because of choice, but rather legalization has made it harder for teens to obtain marijuana. The authors of the Youth Risk Behaviors survey suggested this obstruction exists because “drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.” If people of age can access marijuana legally, they would rather obtain it without chance of criminal punishment. This causes the availability of drug dealers to decrease dramatically, leaving teens with fewer ways to purchase.

The study revealed that legalizing marijuana may lead to a decline in recreational use among teens. It also stated that “There [is] no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth.”

Overall, this decline may ease the concerns among people who are against the legalization of marijuana. “Recreational marijuana laws were associated with a [eight percent] decrease in the likelihood of teens trying marijuana,” according to the national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, conducted from 1993 to 2017. “As well as a [nine percent] reduction in the odds of frequent marijuana use.” As this trend continues, the recreational use of marijuana may be legalized nationwide within the next few decades.