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What’s the correlation between legal cannabis and teen use?

A new batch of data shows that despite cannabis earning its legal status in several U.S. states, young people aren’t exactly getting their hands on the stuff any easier.

This data adds to a growing body of evidence that indicates legal marijuana doesn’t make it more likely for teens to consume it.

 
 
 

The data came from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and was submitted by high schoolers between the years 2009 and 2019. The analysis demonstrated that there was not a significant change or increase in the percentage of students who consumed cannabis within the past 30 days.

Per the data, the year where teens reported their highest percentage of marijuana use was in 2011 before legal cannabis programs were approved in the U.S.

Opponents of legal marijuana programs have cited cannabis use in teenagers and its side effects as a means of dissuading people who may be considering supporting legal cannabis. Among the related beliefs is that legal marijuana could facilitate drug access for youths during a period when their brains are developing and, thus, could make them more susceptible to the drug.

Cannabis advocates have argued the opposite. With a legal marijuana program in place, theoretically, it should be more difficult for underage people to access the drug since legal programs require identification and keep track of customers who purchase these products, thereby erecting more barriers than black-market weed.

Cannabis use in teens should remain a concern for everyone, no matter their stance on legal marijuana. Studies that show no links between legal cannabis programs and cannabis use by young people should be encouraging news for advocates and those who are wary of cannabis.

These programs may, in fact, make cannabis access more difficult and result in higher-quality products.

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