Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Noting notable decline in reported teen marijuana use in California

I have been somewhat suspicious of some assertions by some marijuana reform advocates that legalization would actually produce lower rates of marijuana use by young people (whose  developing brains are most at risk of being harmed by significant marijuana use).  But, as reported her at Marijuana Moment, there is new data from California to support these kinds of claims:

Marijuana use among junior high and high school students is down across all age levels in California, according to the first survey of teen drug consumption conducted in the state since voters legalized recreational cannabis.

Results of the Biennial State California Healthy Kids Survey are consistent with data from other states that have legalized marijuana, where students have also reported declining or flat cannabis use rates following the end of prohibition for adults. “Lifetime marijuana use was reported by 4%, 17%, and 32% of students by ascending grade, declines of 4 points in 7th [grade] and 6 points in both 9th and 11th [grades],” the survey’s authors found.

The rates of alcohol and other drug use have been on steady downward trends since at least 2011, according to the survey. Recreational legalization after voters’ approval in 2016 didn’t interrupt that decline, nor did the growth of the medical cannabis market in the preceding years.

Teens indicated in the survey that a combination of peer and parental disapproval is discouraging them from using cannabis, with the number of seventh- and ninth-graders who said that they strongly disapproved of peer marijuana smoking increasing most sharply.

Results of the survey include data collected between 2015, before 57 percent of California voters approved Proposition 64, which immediately legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over in November 2016, and 2017.  While commercial medical cannabis sales have been widespread in the state for years, the new study does not take into account any potential effect from legal recreational commerce, which began on January 1 of this year.

“How the recent legalization of marijuana use for adults in California effects the declining trend among youth warrants attention,” the survey’s authors wrote.  “The next biennial survey will be of particular interest to shed light on whether the change in state marijuana laws affect these findings.” ....

The survey was conducted by the California Department of Education and the California Department of Health Care Services.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2018/08/noting-notable-decline-in-reported-teen-marijuana-use-in-california.html

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