Study: Teenagers are less likely to use weed after it’s been legalized

Young individuals residing in weed-friendly states were 10 percent less likely to use cannabis for recreational purposes after the plant had been legalized for adults aged 21 and over in their particular state

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Study: Teenagers are less likely to use weed after it’s been legalized

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Contrary to what cynics might have previously thought, cannabis consumption rates among teens in U.S. states that have enacted legal weed laws are actually lower than they are in prohibitionist states.

This is based on the results of a new study that came straight out of Montana State University. Students at the university joined forces to investigate the repercussions of legalizing cannabis on high school students. Data was accumulated and analyzed starting in 1993 and concluding in 2017.

Mark Anderson was the lead author of this study on teen cannabis consumption post-legalization. The results of his study were published in the journal Jama Paediatrics and they indicate that the legalization of weed does not directly influence rates of consumption amongst high school students; perhaps this is a case of the forbidden fruit? 

Weed is no longer a forbidden plant. Is the novelty wearing off for young consumers?

Providing students with easy access to weed means that they are no longer forced to buy from the black market and get tempted by illicit deals. As a regulated product that is cropping up on dispensary store shelves throughout the U.S., cannabis is becoming increasingly normalized among all consumer age demographics.

The study “should help to quell some concerns that use among teens will actually go up,” said Anderson, who worked alongside the team to investigate the cannabis-buying and consuming behaviors of some 1.4 million teenagers residing in the States. 

In spite of a nationwide rise in youth cannabis consumption, young individuals residing in weed-friendly states were 10 percent less likely to use cannabis for recreational purposes after the plant had been legalized for adults aged 21 and over in their particular state. Their information was gleaned from the annual Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although cheaper, black market cannabis poses a health hazard for consumers

According to Anderson, it is not as easy for teenagers to purchase regulated cannabis from licensed dispensaries. Why? Inside licensed cannabis stores, it is absolutely imperative that customers present the security guard and/or ‘budtender’ with a valid form of identification to prove they are of legal age to buy potent bud. 

When it comes to buying unregulated weed from ‘black market’ dealers, illegally operating cartels will sell their goods to pretty much anyone who’s willing to hand over their cash. The price of black market cannabis also tends to be cheaper than the product sold inside licensed dispensaries.

A dispensary will conduct a thorough process to ensure the product is lab-tested and pesticide-free prior to stocking it on store shelves. The same cannot be said for street weed, which has been known to contain traces of feces.

Lower overhead costs mean better profit margins for illicitly-operating drug dealers. Unfortunately for consumers, cheaper weed poses a health and safety risk. With that being said, it’s better to pay more for your stash if you want to know exactly what journey the cannabis has been on from seed-to-sale.

Due to the recent legalization of weed across various U.S. states, (weed is legal for medical purposes in 33 states and 11 for recreational purposes) Anderson’s team say that they must update their data “in a few years.” Currently, it is against the law for anybody aged below the age of 18 to purchase cannabis.